Brazilian £21m housing Ponzi scheme solicitor struck off

Pedro Gonçalves
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Brazilian £21m housing Ponzi scheme solicitor struck off

The boss of a company that offered investment opportunities in Brazilian social housing, but which collapsed owing investors £21m, has been banned for 14 years after misleading his clients and failing to account for several millions of pounds of transactions.

Ecohouse Developments Ltd offered investments in the construction of social housing in Brazil. Investors would typically pay £23,000 per unit and would expect to receive their capital plus a 20% return 12 months later.

People were encouraged to invest by marketing literature and contracts that claimed Ecohouse owned the land the social housing was being built upon and the investment was secure. Investors were also told the exit strategy was backed by the government and Ecohouse was an approved supplier.

Members of the public thought they were getting a great deal but were unfortunately tricked into investing into a company that provided false and misleading information"

In May 2013, however, concerns about the company were posted online and by January 2015 Ecohouse Developments was placed into liquidation as it could not pay its debts, owing more than 350 investors around £21m.

Anthony Jon Domingo Armstrong-Emery, who has links to Gibraltar, and his colleague, Charles Valentine Fraser-Macnamara, from Halesowen, West Midlands, were directors of Ecohouse Developments, according to the Insolvency Service.

The High Court handed Armstrong-Emery a disqualification order on 15 March 2019. Armstrong-Emery is banned for 14 years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Charles Valentine Fraser-Macnamara was thrown out of the profession after eight allegations were proved over the collapsed overseas investment scheme, in relation to six of which dishonesty was found.

Cheryl Lambert, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: "Members of the public thought they were getting a great deal but were unfortunately tricked into investing into a company that provided false and misleading information.

"The evidence against the directors was substantial and while Anthony Armstrong-Emery thought he could evade our enquiries as he lived abroad, the court action is testament that we will take robust action against directors who disregard their obligations."

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