Two Swiss-based company directors who deceived UK investors into paying more than £5 million in a land banking scam have been disqualified as directors for 12 years, following a Government investigation.
The former directors of Hambrook & Greenstock AG (in liquidation), Andres Schenker and Claudia Daxelhoffer, have today signed disqualification undertakings after inquiries by the Insolvency Service's Companies Investigation Branch revealed a pattern of unfit conduct.
The company sold plots of greenfield land to UK investors at three sites at Sible Hedingham, Marlow, and Chalford. The company bought the land for just over £600,000. Some 750 plots were then sold to investors for £5 million.
The investors were told that the land would receive planning consent for development and would increase dramatically in value. That permission was never granted and the plots have remained undeveloped.
Business Minister Ian Lucas said:
"This sends a strong message to company directors who deceive and rip-off members of the public: we will investigate and take firm action against you.
"Investors should also be wary of any land-banking or other schemes which promise huge profits for little outlay. To use the old adage, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Mr Schenker and Mrs Daxelhoffer accepted that their misconduct made them unfit to be company directors, namely that they had:
- Failed to give any or any proper consideration to the legality of the
company's land banking scheme.
- Caused or permitted unfounded and misleading statements to be made to the
public in connection with the plots of land.
- Caused or permitted the company to enter into voluntary liquidation in
Switzerland without making any provisions to refund money to UK investors.
- Mr Schenker misrepresented the company's scheme to the Financial Services Authority.