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Insolvency proceedings begin for Harlequin Property SVG

Insolvency proceedings begin for Harlequin Property SVG


Currently under investigation for tax evasion and theft here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the chairman of the Harlequin Group Dave Ames has declared subsidiary company Harlequin Property SVG insolvent – according to court documents.

This was reported in an online article by the Financial Times Adviser (‘Harlequin Property enters insolvency proceedings’) published yesterday, Thursday, {{more}}October 6; and confirmed by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves on October 4 at a press conference.

Noting that Buccament Bay Resort (operated by Harlequin Property SVG) has “a lot of problems”, the Prime Minister said that Brian Glasgow, of accounting firm KPMG, has been appointed as the insolvency practitioner in this matter.

“There are other steps which can be taken legally… The question is what is the best solution which will emerge for the company and the creditors;” said Gonsalves.

Glasgow will put forward a proposal that is intended not only to help rescue Harlequin Property SVG, but also to satisfy the company’s creditors in both SVG and the United Kingdom.

According to the Financial Times Adviser article, if a proposal is unable to be reached or is rejected, then the company “will enter into formal liquidation”.

The article also states that chairman Dave Ames has taken this course of action to “allow the company a maximum of six months to… sort out its business affairs” and is not an admission of bankruptcy.

A spokesperson for Harlequin Group explained to FTAdviser that the company has taken this action to “protect the company, its thousands of investors, and its hundreds of employees”.

“It has done so with the knowledge of the Vincentian government on the understanding that Harlequin can and will come out the other side.”

The FTAdviser article notes that this action was lodged on October 4 to “stave off a notice to wind up the company”. However, should the matter result in liquidation, Harlequin Property SVG’s assets will be sold off – including flagship Buccament Bay Resort – to be distributed to investors once insolvency costs have been deducted.

Additionally, the FTAdviser article points out that documents filed with the High Court name around 130 investors (some now deceased) with claims against the company ranging from £24,000 to £163,000.

In the article, Gareth Fatchett, a partner at Waterside Legal – Ames’s legal representation in the UK – said: “Harlequin has taken advantage of the new legislation in SVG to seek creditor protection while an independent solvency practitioner puts together a proposal for creditors to accept or reject.”

Dave Ames has been declared bankrupt on two previous occasions.

In an article dated June 24, 2016, SEARCHLIGHT reported that Dave Ames and lawyer Samuel Commissiong had been slapped with a total of 12 charges relating to theft and tax evasion of almost EC$7 million.

SVG law enforcement authorities issued a warrant for Ames’s arrest following the charges being laid and the British investor’s failure to turn up to court. It was later discovered that Ames had returned to the UK.

Since then, Ames has claimed that he is too ill to travel to return to St. Vincent to attend court.(JSV)