An escrow service provider company, based in Nottingham, was wound up by the High Court on 21 January 2015, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Imperial Escrow Ltd offered an escrow facility for a small number of clients, two of whom, Denver Trading AG, a Swiss registered company, and Denver Trading Ltd, a Seychelles registered company (collectively the Denver companies), sold rare earth metal oxides to members of the public as an investment product through a network of UK based sales agent companies.
The Denver companies, along with Imperial Escrow Ltd, were placed into provisional liquidation by the High Court on 19 December 2013, following petitions presented by the Secretary of State. The Denver companies were subsequently compulsorily wound up on 27 August 2014, after it was found that serious misrepresentations were made to members of the public as to prospective investment returns from the purchase and onward sale of rare earth metal oxides.
Imperial Escrow Ltd was used by the Denver companies to bank their customer remittances. On collection of those remittances transfers were made to Denver companies sales agents, usually representing 40% to 50% of customer fees, and the remaining balances were typically paid to offshore bank accounts controlled by the individuals who managed and controlled the Denver companies, Christopher John Sabin and Tobias Alexander Ridpath.
Commenting on the winding-up of the company, David Hill, a Chief Investigator with the Insolvency Service, said:
This formally brings to an end the activities of this company, linked to companies that, in truth were peddling near worthless investments.
The Insolvency Service will not allow rogue companies to rip-off vulnerable and honest people and will investigate abuses and close down companies if they are found to be operating or about to operate, against the public interest.
The sole director of Imperial Escrow Ltd, Rizvan Mian, acted on the instructions of Mr Sabin and Mr Ridpath. At the date that Imperial Escrow Ltd was placed into provisional liquidation, it held 1.1 million in escrow accounts on behalf of the Denver companies. The court was sufficiently concerned that those monies were at risk from the continued trading of the company, so ordering the company to be placed into provisional liquidation, where control of those companys assets, including its bank accounts, were transferred into the custody of the Official Receiver.
Imperial Escrow Ltd claimed that the 1.1 million it held on behalf of the Denver companies were monies that belonged to those companies. However Registrar Jones in the High Court said that it was essential that the client funds were dealt with properly after investigation by the Official Receiver.