An investment firm “unscrupulously” banked £14million from selling car park spaces in Paisley, they originally didn’t even own.
Aston Darby Group Limited sold more than 630 car park spaces on the Harbour Road site between April 2017 and December 2019, promising unwitting clients high value returns on their investments.
The individual spaces were sold to investors for £25,000 with a guarantee that they would receive 11 per cent returns within two years.
However, it was later discovered the cash being paid back was from the original investments rather than income generated by the car park.
The details were heard as Aston Darby Group Ltd was wound up in the public interest on July 3 in the High Court, Manchester before HHJ Halliwell.
The court heard investigators uncovered that the company had made misleading claims in its sales brochures and marketing materials, failing to mention they did not own any of the land on Harbour Road where the spaces were being sold.
Investors were told the Renfrewshire site was already bringing in cash returns, and were also mislead into believing that their funds would be specifically used to buy a parking space, when 50 per cent was actually being used for charges accrued by the company.
The move by Manchester High Court to wind up the company was welcomed by David Hope, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service.
He said: “Aston Darby Group unscrupulously secured millions of pounds worth of investments from members of the public using misleading sales
“The court rightly recognised the potential damage done to investors by Aston Darby Group Limited selling a flawed business model and has acted swiftly to shut the company down.”
At the same hearing, a second connected company was also wound-up, Drake Estates Property Company Limited.
The court heard Aston Darby Group also sold spaces on behalf of Drake Estates at a car park located close to Manchester Airport.
The company assisted Drake Estates to sell circa 456 car park spaces at the site close to Manchester Airport for close to £11.5m.
Approximately £2m raised from investments in the Manchester site was used to part-fund the acquisition of the Harbour Road site without the knowledge of the investors in the Manchester site.
The winding up petitions were presented against Aston Darby Group and Drake Estates in June 2020 and were initially due to be heard in September 2020.
But at a hearing on July 3, the court accepted that it was appropriate to expedite the proceedings and heard the petitions that day.
The court accepted that the two companies had operated with a lack of commercial probity and with a lack of transparency, as well as failing to fully cooperate with the investigation, failing to maintain and deliver financial information to the investigators.
The Official Receiver was appointed as liquidator of the companies and on July 9 Paul David Allen and Chad Griffin of FRP Advisory Trading Limited were appointed as joint liquidators.