SFO makes arrest in £150m 'guaranteed returns' probe involving investors from 50 countries

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SFO makes arrest in £150m 'guaranteed returns' probe involving investors from 50 countries

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) carried out co-ordinated raids across the UK on 29 September following a six-month covert investigation into the Alpha and Green Park businesses over suspected fraud and money laundering involving over 1,500 investors from around 50 different countries who invested an estimated £150m.

Working with the UK's Cleveland Police, the SFO carried out formal searches on multiple properties, arresting and interviewing one suspect.

At the same time, the SFO also issued several Section 2 notices, which force companies to provide relevant information.

Thousands of ordinary people lose their pensions or life savings on risky schemes, while those at the top line their own pockets and enjoy a lavish lifestyle."

The SFO suspects the Alpha-branded companies of fraudulently misleading investors into purchasing leaseholds for student accommodation in Leicestershire, Lancashire, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire.

The Green Park-branded companies are suspected to be part of a similar scheme to sell leaseholds for holiday accommodation in Devon.

Alpha and Green Park branded companies sold investments into leasehold units between 2014 and 2019, promising investors 8-10% returns on their investment over the first 10 years. Over 1,500 investors from around 50 different countries invested an estimated £150 million into the leasehold schemes on the back of these guaranteed returns, but all stopped receiving these in 2018.

The directors of the companies are thought to have made around £20 million from their schemes, it further said.

Mick Gallagher, chief investigator, Serious Fraud Office, said: "Thousands of ordinary people lose their pensions or life savings on risky schemes, while those at the top line their own pockets and enjoy a lavish lifestyle.The Serious Fraud Office is committed to delivering justice for victims of fraud and corruption. We invite anyone who believes they have a connection with our investigation to come forward."

The SFO also said investigators will contact UK-based investors and ask them to fill out a questionnaire by 30 November 2021. The information provided will help the SFO to identify and pursue new information and to continue progressing the investigation as quickly as possible.