Tony Hetherington is the ace investigator on Sunday’s Financial Mail, fighting readers’ corners, revealing the truth behind closed doors and securing victory for those left out of pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
MM writes: You told about the secret of investors losing money in bonds issued by Global Water Group in January.
On paper, the firm looked safe and promising, but it went into liquidation and the liquidators were not able to trace its assets.
Has there been any development?
Reassuring: Ross Perry runs Global Water, which wowed investors with carefully crafted ads
Tony Hetherington replies: Cambridge-based Global Water Group has graduated from a mystery to a scandal.
The unanswered questions in January have slowly produced answers that show the entire business was based on lies and false claims.
It actually looked good on paper, describing itself as a powerful network that included governments, educational institutions, and pension funds.
It is now clear that such a network never existed. And it marketed interest-bearing bonds with the promise that investors’ money would be used to develop water technology. Instead, the money disappeared.
The company had only two owners. The first was Michael Livesey from Basildon in Essex.
In October 2019 he also handed over from Basildon to Ross Perry. And in May of last year, Perry put the company into liquidation.
It was no surprise to see a company linked to Perry go bust. He was the director of a scandalous carbon credit investment firm called London Green Financial, which collapsed in 2013.
Prior to that, he was associated with Elite Asset Exchange, which marketed storage units as investments. It collapsed in 2015.
However, Global Water Group got to file accounts at Companies House. This shows that the firm paid £500,000 for the option to buy the land.
There was nothing to say to whom it was paid, or where the land was located, and it is now clear that the accounts – signed by Livesey – were false.
The land deal was fictitious, designed to make the company appear solid while in reality it was paper thin.
The fake balance sheets and false promises were only meant to attract investors, who poured hundreds of thousands of pounds into the business.
According to liquidator Carter Clark, the company has debts of £888,000, but only £85,621 was found in its bank accounts. It has directed the solicitors to see if they can recover any more money.
So where did investors’ cash end up? At least part of the answer is that £350,000 went to Perry who gambled with it and lost – reportedly – although some investors I know suspect a substantial piece of their money may have been salted somewhere. .
The liquidator has submitted his findings to Essex Police and has assured me that he will cooperate with the investigation.
It added: ‘The issue of criminal proceedings is now entirely a matter for the police and the matter is beyond the control of the liquidator.’
Essex Police officials themselves confirmed: ‘We are investigating a suspected fraud and money laundering charge in connection with the conduct of a trading business as Global Water Group Ltd.’
Anyone with information or evidence can contact me on The Mail on Sunday and I will hand it over to the investigative team.
The police is not the only one keeping a close watch on this. The Insolvency Service has banned Michael Livesey from acting as a director of any company.
The ban began on Tuesday and is in place for the next 11 years. Investigators found that while Livesey was in charge, investors invested £640,275 in his business, of which £444,648 was withdrawn without any reasonable explanation.
Both Perry and Livesey were invited to comment, but did not say anything and did not respond.
Short-changed: AT accepts Travellog’s suggestion of a credit voucher instead of a cash refund.
Travelodge will not accept refunded vouchers for
AT writes: When canceling a booking with Travelodge in Helensburgh, I accepted his suggestion of a credit voucher instead of a cash refund.
But when I made a new booking, and then made another, I was told that the credit voucher could only be used once, and anything not spent on my first new booking was forfeited.
Tony Hetherington replies: The lockdown and travel restrictions have led to an increase in complaints from customers whose plans have had to be put on hold.
Your Helensburgh booking costs £234, which you could have received in cash, but Travelodge offered a voucher for £293, which you accepted.
You told me that what Travelodge didn’t tell was that its terms and conditions state that the voucher has to be spent all at once.
You found it the hard way, when you booked a trip to Harrogate that cost £129, and were then told that even though you originally paid £234 to Travellodge, the Harrogate trip would only get you.
Travelodge insists that its voucher terms are clear, but it has told me that as a gesture of goodwill it has refunded the £105, £234 you paid for the canceled Helensburgh trip and the £129 The difference between what you actually spent on subsequent Harrogate bookings.
If you believe you have been the victim of financial misconduct, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Due to the high volume of inquiries, individual answers cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret are non-returnable.
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