A BUSINESSMAN who scammed investors out of £13.3m has been disqualified from being a company director for 15 years following a hearing at the High Court.
Thirty-seven-year-old Ian James Hamilton, the director of Industry RE Ltd (IRE) operated a number of ‘alternative investment’ scams between 2009 and 2013.
Mr Hamilton’s last known address was in Newbury in 2013, but it is believed he subsequently lived in Dubai and possibly Spain.
The main scams were a money circulation scheme and selling interests in land in Dominica that the company never owned.
His disqualification follows an investigation by the Official Receiver at Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service.
The Official Receiver’s involvement commenced with the winding up of the company by HM Revenue & Customs.
Tony Hanon, Official Receiver at Public Interest Unit, said: “As is so often the case, if an investment scheme appears too good to be true, it probably is.
“The company persuaded members of the public to part with substantial sums by falsely promising investors extremely high rates of return.
“In reality, the scheme operated only for the benefit of those running the company, principally the director, Ian Hamilton.
There were two schemes run by IRE, both of which were dishonest.
In the first scheme IRE received money from consumers by guaranteeing a return on their investments, which was actually a money circulation scheme.
Most investors believed they were purchasing carbon credits, which IRE said that it would repurchase within 12 months for 30 per cent more than investors had paid, and sell the credits onwards to a connected company in Dubai.
In total IRE made payments totalling more than £8.6 million to customers that included what were claimed to be investment returns.
However, the investigation found that IRE had not made any of the claimed investments and did not receive any profits that it could use to pay investment returns to investors.
The other scheme operated by IRE was the sale of interests in an “Eco Resort” that it claimed would be built in Dominica.
Consumers were persuaded to pay £25,000 for an interest in the supposed resort, and were promised a return of 80 per cent on their investment within two years.
However IRE never told investors that it had not acquired the land on which the resort was to be built.
IRE received sums totalling £7.6 million from investors to buy interests in the “eco resort”, none of whom have received any return.
A number of ‘customer updates’ have been circulated by the company between December 2012 and 3 August 2013.
In these documents Mr Hamilton stated that the company had relocated to Dubai, and there then followed a serious of purported explanations of why the company was delayed in being able to make payments due to customers.
In December 2012 sums totalling more than £1.1 million were transferred from the company’s bank account in a single day.
Mr Hamilton suggested that money was being held by a connected company in Dubai, but he failed to provide any information or company records to support his version of events.