Published: 24th February 2020
Administrators at Begbies Traynor say they are making progress in a case involving a collapsed Boltonbased
property firm which took more than £30m from members of the public.
The Secretary of State appointed Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of Begbies Traynor in Manchester as
joint liquidators of five companies connected to Harewood Associates: Southworth Construction,
Monmouth Regent Capital, Sherwood Homes, Harewood Venture Capital and Ramsay Investment.
The action has taken Begbies Traynor a step closer to closing in on where more than £30m of investor
funds disappeared to.
Harewood Associates was established in 2010 and encouraged people to invest into regional house
building projects by offering ‘returns’ of 8% and more.
Its investor campaigns mainly targeted the senior demographic via up-market magazines and websites
offering returns much higher than the high street banks on the basis that they were unregulated and
could therefore offer shares of profits back to investors without the burden of the red tape associated
with regulated businesses.
The advertising literature promised security for loans over property development and a ringfenced fund
which would act as a financial lifeboat if there was a run on the fund.
These claims were false but so persuasive that nearly 900 investors handed over £31.8 million – an
average of just over £36,000 per person. Amounts owed to creditors ranged from £5,000 to the largest
investment of just under £800,000.
Unfortunately for investors, the fact the business was unregulated means that any individual investor
losses are highly unlikely to be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
Paul Stanley and Dean Watson of Begbies Traynor in Manchester were appointed as joint administrators
in summer 2019. Since then, they have been working alongside Government agencies to uncover how
and why the company collapsed and provide answers for creditors. The company was moved into
liquidation in December 2019 which is normal in these types of cases.
Paul Stanley, regional managing partner of Begbies Traynor in Manchester, said:
“We are making good progress to uncover what exactly happened to more than £32m of investors’
money. Our team has uncovered a web of companies linked to Harewood where funds were transferred
both directly or via solicitors’ accounts.
“We demanded repayment and petitioned the court to have some of the companies wound up. In order
to allow transparency across the companies, we have been appointed as liquidators over these
companies as well by the Secretary of State following a very sensible and practical approach by the
Official Receiver’s offices in Manchester and Lytham.
“These new appointments will give us legal access to bank accounts where money was moved through
and over 200 solicitors’ files which were handled for the companies.
“Our team is also assisting Government departments who are now addressing deep concerns expressed
to us from investors over the conduct of the directors.
“Our role as administrators is to forensically analyse where the funds were moved around the web of
companies connected to Harewood and to try and recover as much as we can for creditors. .
“We have engaged with unhappy investors from all over the country on this case, many of whom have
had their lives destroyed by losing significant amounts of money.
“We are also working with a pro-active Creditors’ Committee who are helping to steer the direction of
our work. We will continue to update investors and creditors with the progress being made in
accordance with the insolvency legislation.”
Dean is a Qualified Accountant (FCCA) and Licensed Insolvency Practitioner with over 25 years experience in the accounting profession. Dean joined Begbies Traynor in 1999 after spending 10 years working in general audit and accountancy practice. Based in the Manchester and Preston offices, he has worked on a variety of assignments including formal insolvency appointments and providing advice to various stakeholders in situations where financial distress is present.
Dean has gained significant experience in the Legal Sector after dealing with a number of distressed Legal and other professional services firms in recent years and jointly heads up the North West Professional Services team.
As well as business reviews and formal insolvency appointments, practical solutions and hands on turnaround assignments have also been one of Dean’s main focuses. This has generally been in support of high street clearing banks and other financial institutions.