High Court dissolves two companies for £1 million art fraud

Last week, the High Court wound-up two companies involved in a fraudulent art investment scheme after they were found to be “abusing” nearly £1 million of investor’s money.

Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali were among the renowned artists Warrington-based Gem Tobin Ltd and York-based Dionysus Design Services Ltd were supposedly investing money in. Yet investigators at the Insolvency Service were unable to find any evidence of either company’s apparent investments.

These companies have acted cynically in accepting almost a million pounds from members of the public,” said David Hope, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, “many of whom are elderly and vulnerable people, with no evidence to indicate that the investment being offered had any value or was likely to generate any return for the investors.”

Despite Gem Tobin taking £700,000 from investors and Dionysus Design receiving £200,000, no evidence to date has been found that any of this cash was spent on artworks.

Investigators also discovered that both Gem Tobin and Dionysus Design were a continuation of another two allegedly fraudulent companies, which had both been liquidated earlier this year.

After allegedly abusing investors’ funds of almost £1.4million, Halifax Mannin Ltd and Hey Design Services Ltd were dissolved in the public interest in March. It is believed that the same individuals who controlled these companies went on to establish similar business ventures in Warrington and York shortly afterwards, while they were living in Spain or Morocco.

Due to the owners’ failure to cooperate with the authorities, investigators have been unable to determine how the staggering amount of funds were actually spent.

Investigators submitted evidence during the court proceedings that concluded the two companies had “traded with a lack of commercial probity” and that their only goal was to “receive monies wrongly obtained from members of the public“.

Thankfully, the courts have now put a stop to their activities, preventing further harm,” explained Hope.

The ruling was made before District Judge Matharuon on 7 October at the High Court in Manchester. Since then, an Official Receiver has been appointed liquidator of the companies.

 

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