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The Harlequin Property scandal – how did it happen?

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The Harlequin Property scheme was initially backed by famous names, financial advisors and a guarantee of high returns. However, the scheme is now under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). As a result of mis-selling, the scheme’s boss is set to stand trial for three counts of fraud in 2019. 

Harlequin Property scheme

The Harlequin Property investment promised returns from a planned luxury Caribbean holiday resort. With the public endorsement of TV property guru Phil Spencer, football pundit Andy Townsend and Liverpool Football Club, the scheme was appealing to many investors.

Thousands invested their self-invested personal pensions into the scheme, however the returns never came to fruition and the scheme went bankrupt. Only 300 of the 6,000 properties planned were actually built.

The scheme saw more than £400 million worth of investments. After the resort went bust, many were consequently left out of pocket. The FSCS is therefore urging those who invested in the product to make a claim. 


Advisors hid the risks to investors played a part in the scheme’s mis-selling and are therefore partly responsible for the losses.

Mis-selling occurs when:

  • The investor was unaware of the risks of a scheme
  • They are new to investing and didn’t fully understand the process
  • An investor was pressured to buy a product with hard-selling
  • They were unaware of additional fees and costs attached to a scheme
  • An investor was offered poor advice and told to invest in a scheme unsuitable for their financial capabilities
  • A SIPP was recommended for tax avoidance purposes.
  • The income tax implications were not made clear to an investor at the start of the scheme

Finally, if you have invested your Sipp in Harlequin Property, or believe you may have been mis-sold a SIPP, get in touch and our expert team can offer advice on a no win, no fee basis.