Five connected land investment companies that operated a 5m land banking scam in Brazil from a UK base, using high pressure sales tactics have been wound up in the public interest by the High Court.

The companies - Pantheon Realty Consultants Limited, Pantheon Realty Consultancy Limited, Pantheon Realty Limited, Pantheon Limited and PR Group Limited (the companies) - were wound up following investigations by the Insolvency Service and petitions presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills.

The investigation showed that the companies used high pressure sales techniques including exaggerated promises of large returns from selling plots of land in Brazil to over 320 individuals and received from them in excess of 5m.

The investigation further showed that the precise location of the land was almost impossible to pinpoint, the suitability of the plots for development was unknown and the existence of any planning permission uncertain.

The companies claimed investors would benefit from the upcoming football World Cup and Olympic Games in Brazil. The reality was that the site was some 150 miles from the nearest World Cup venue and 1,200 miles from the nearest Olympic venue.

The Official Receiver has been appointed liquidator of all the companies. The role of the liquidator is to protect and realise the assets of the companies and investigate the conduct of those operating the companies.

In his judgment, Chief Registrar Baister commented that the companies were operating an overseas land banking scheme in which dishonesty was going on and that the companies had fallen below the minimum standards of commercial behaviour expected.

Commenting on the case, David Hill, an Investigation Supervisor at the Insolvency Service said:

These companies attempted to take advantage of world renowned sporting events to entice people to invest in their bogus schemes. However, they could not support their exaggerated claims and investors who fell for their slick patter ended up losing out.

Companies such as these can rest assured that the Insolvency Service will take action against and put out of business, companies that set out to rip off honest investors .