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News: Buy-to-let investors ripped off by unscrupulous developers

Thu, 03 Jan 19

Six directors have been banned for a total of 54 years after misleading more than 300 investors who collectively invested at least £12m acquiring new building homes in the north England.

Absolute Living Developments Limited sold off-plan apartments across several developments, primarily located in Bradford and Greater Manchester, to buy-to-let investors based in England and overseas, most notably in Asia.

The company sought out investments to convert commercial buildings into residential properties. But investors complained that having invested through Absolute Living Developments, the developments had not been fully completed and the apartments were unliveable.

Absolute Living Developments was wound-up by order of the courts in April 2016 following the presentation of a petition by Bradford Council due to unpaid rates and investigations that followed principally focused on four developments, three in Bradford and a single scheme in Manchester.

Investigators discovered various examples of misconduct by Absolute Living Developments facilitated by the directors.

The company provided misleading and incomplete information about the developments to investors, meaning people could not carry out due diligence.

Absolute Living Developments had no ability to ensure the terms of contracts with investors could be met and failed to provide adequate safeguards for money obtained from investors.

For one of the developments, Absolute Living Developments requested completion payments from investors despite the development not being completed.

And the company signed charges over Absolute Living Developments’ assets, which meant that a third party owns them and there are no remaining assets in the liquidation to pay creditors.

An independent insolvency practitioner has been appointed in this case to investigate recovery of assets for the benefit of creditors. The liquidator’s actions are ongoing and to date they have received claims from creditors in excess of £68m.

Ken Beasley, official receiver for the Insolvency Service, said: “This was a complex investigation, considering the amount of money that was invested, not all of the directors were based in the UK and we worked with several other authorities.

“We want to draw attention to these rogue directors so we can alert people about the risks involved when investing, while also warning that we will investigate and tackle those that set out to deliberately rip people off by misrepresenting the investment opportunity on offer.”

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