Home Estate Planning SFO launches probe into £140m property fraud

SFO launches probe into £140m property fraud

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The UK anti-fraud agency has raided three residences and made four arrests in North West England in relation to an investigation into Signature Group.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has announced it is investigating Signature Group, a business that attracted over a thousand investors in the redevelopment of landmarks including Belfast’s Scottish Mutual Building and the Coal Exchange in Cardiff.

The Group operated for over seven years, buying up predominantly historic buildings within the UK for redevelopment into luxury hotels, residential apartments and office spaces.

UK and international investors loaned money to Signature and/or purchased a hotel room, apartment or office space in one of the group’s properties, with promised returns on their investment of between 8 per cent and 15 per cent.

The business collapsed into administration in 2022 with losses of up to £140m.

The Serious Fraud Office raided three residences and made four arrests in Merseyside and Greater Manchester today. Its operation was supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Commenting on today’s news, Nick Ephgrave, director of the SFO said: “The scheme offered attractive returns and used much-loved local landmarks to lure investors. We have people up and down the country left out of pocket, and buildings left derelict at the centre of our cities.”

“Today’s arrests and searches will help us reconstruct exactly what happened. This is now an active criminal investigation,” he added.

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