he High Court has wound up thirteen companies set up by two bankrupts who scammed investors out of around ?8 million through elaborate property project*scams.

Thirteen companies have been wound up by the High Court in the public interest following investigations by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.

The companies all traded from an address in Stroud and were all set up by husband and wife team Matthew and Charlotte Roberts, who are both bankrupt. They had targeted high net worth individuals and ?sophisticated investors? for two projects and succeeded in raising at least ?7.8 million. Insolvency Service investigators are now seeking to track down funds and assets but have warned a significant amount of the money may not be recoverable.

David Hill, chief investigator with the Insolvency Service, said,

I am very pleased to see that the Court has called a halt to the unscrupulous activities of these companies. The Insolvency Service will continue to investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies harming or about to harm the public by operating in this way.

The companies have shown no regard for the law.

The 13 companies purported to be involved in two projects. 11 were concerned with a project to acquire and convert a former convent in Woodchester, near Stroud in Gloucester, into a hotel and music venue. The remaining two companies were involved in a second project to acquire and develop a property in Norway to create an ?eco resort?.

The Matthews raised at least ?7.8 million from private investors who were told their investments would be fully asset backed with the companies in which they purchased shares acquiring ownership of various land and buildings at the two sites. In fact none of the land, or buildings was found to be owned by the companies in which investors had invested.

Investors were invited to buy preference shares in a number of companies with a particular purpose in defined project on the promise of annual returns from 10% and guaranteed buybacks up to 150% depending on the length of the investment term which could be between one, three or five years. They were then told that their investment was high risk and having certified themselves as either ?high net worth individuals? or ?sophisticated investors?, they would have no access to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.