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Four connected companies have been wound up after they were found to fraudulently secure close to $600,000 from overseas investors.
North London-based Carlton Church, Standard Fidelity, Cathay Dupont and International Finance & Consulting were all wound up on 13 August by Judge Briggs in the High Court of Justice, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
At the hearing to consider the petition to wind up the companies, the court heard that the four companies claimed to trade as IT consultants, software developers, promoters of humanitarian projects in Asia and providers of business outsourcing services in order to secure funds from overseas investors.
Following confidential investigations, however, the court upheld there was no evidence that the companies had been engaged in any form of legitimate business activity.
Investigators established that the four companies, including similar named companies registered abroad, fraudulently sold shares in pharmaceutical companies to the overseas investors.
All together the four companies secured US$572,739 from eight investors based in Russia, Australia, Dubai, Oman and South Africa, and the proceeds raised through the fraudulent shares were laundered through an organised crime ring in the Philippines.
Further evidence uncovered that all four companies demonstrated a lack of transparency, they were specifically incorporated to operate a fraudulent investment scheme and all four operated with a lack of commercial probity having failed to file accounts or provide accounting records to investigators.
The court also heard that there was evidence that all four companies were closely connected. They all shared a common director, David Martyn, as well as a company secretary, Geoffrey Dixon. And while Barry Rosen was listed as the actual owner of the companies, investigators determined that he was a patsy for another person – David Gilinsky.
Investigators confirmed that Barry Rosen was already known to the police, having been arrested by the Philippines National Police in August 2018 in relation to alleged instances of transnational online fraud and wider investigations into organised crime syndicates operating in Manila.
The crime syndicates carried out boiler room frauds, which use high pressure sales techniques and cold calling people in order to solicit them to invest in questionable share schemes, and specifically targeted expatriates by misrepresenting themselves as stock brokers.
"Throughout our investigations it was plain to see that the companies lacked any sort of transparency and when we tried to engage with the directors there was a total failure to co-operate," said David Hill, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service.
"Our evidence shows that the four companies were part of a wider scheme to target genuine investors and we are pleased with the court’s decision to shut down these companies, seriously curtailing their opportunities to harm anyone else."
The court was informed at the hearing of the petition that investigations into the four companies have been conducted in various locations and jurisdictions. Warnings had been issued by the Financial Conduct Authority, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Japanese Financial Services Authority, New Zealand Markets Authority and Luxembourg’s Commission de Surveillance de Secture Financier.