A property development director has been disqualified for 14 years after his company, Towers Property Development, sold overvalued land by making misleading statements and failing to provide complete information to customers.
An investigation by the Insolvency Service found that Carlos Alesandro Paul Amaya-Torres caused or allowed the company, by its employees or agents, to cause customers to purchase land at an overvalue.
Mr Amaya-Torres was the sole director of the company from 29 January 2007 until it ceased trading, going into Liquidation on 5 December 2013, with an estimated deficiency of £2,167,388.
Following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Mr Amaya-Torres has accepted a disqualification undertaking on 8 January 19, 2016, for a period of 14 years, which is due to commence on 1 February 2016.
The investigation found misleading statements were made by Towers’ sales agents on the phone and in a variety of written marketing materials. Customers were led to believe that the parcels of land sold by Towers would soon obtain planning permission, when in reality there was little prospect of this. Towers also failed to inform customers of vital information, such as the risks of making an investment, the planning history in relation to the land, and the planning restrictions that applied at the time of the sale. The land was sold for up to 23 times what it had cost Towers to buy.
In 2011 Towers was subject to enforcement action by Trading Standards and the company eventually agreed to include prominent warnings in their promotional literature. However, buyers who had purchased land prior to December 2011 told the Insolvency Service that they would not have done so if Towers had provided them with all the relevant information.
The Liquidator of Towers has received claims totalling £2,046,488 from customers who purchased land.
Anthea Simpson, Head of Company Investigations at the Insolvency Service, said: “Directors of companies that mislead customers into making risky ‘investments’ can expect their actions to be vigorously investigated by the Insolvency Service once the company enters liquidation. The length of the disqualification sends a clear message to others of how seriously such misconduct is considered by the Secretary of State and that it will be firmly dealt with.”
Samantha Morley of Morley Riches & Ablewhite, said “My son was targeted by one of these companies and received a prospectus. Fortunately having a mum “in the surveying profession” he asked me about the investment potential and I was able to explain this was a scam. I would always advise our clients to take independent advice from local consultants who can advise on the real prospect of obtaining permission to develop and the likely terms.”