Following an investigation by The Insolvency Service six companies that cheated the public into investing in plots of agricultural land have been wound up by the High Court on public interest grounds.
The petitions were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 15 February 2013, and the companies were subsequently wound up on 28 March 2013.
The six companies; Green Crest Homes Ltd, Brand Trader (UK) Ltd (formerly known as Green Crest Homes (UK) Ltd, Sutton Wells Ltd, Curved Ball Ltd, JCB Marketing Ltd and NSS-Operations Ltd, all of which were based in the North of England, traded from premises at 70 High St, Newton-Le-Willows, Merseyside, WA12 9SH.
Collectively, the companies operated a land banking scheme selling plots or sections of land which they described to investors as the “Pennine View Project”. The companies falsely claimed to investors that they would obtain planning permission that would dramatically increase the value of the land purchased. Investors were told that Green Crest Homes Ltd was seeking planning permission for the development of the land and once this had been obtained, the value of the initial investment of £11,000 could potentially increase to £120,000.
During the course of investigations, The Insolvency Service had found that, despite their claims, the companies had in fact made no application for planning permission for the land, nor had they intended to.
In light of their findings, Colin Cronin (Investigation Supervisor with The Insolvency Service) stated that, “The Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies and their directors when the public are deliberately misled in this manner. The advice to anyone who is approached to invest in land in this way is to take time to reflect, seek independent advice and research the company in question. If a scheme sounds too good to be true, it usually is”.