Hunt for £30m as plug is pulled on flats linked to char­ity con­man

Buy­ers’ fury af­ter in­vest­ing up to £500k

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News -

A lux­ury de­vel­op­ment linked to char­ity fraud­ster Tony Free­man has gone bust af ter tak­ing £30mil­lion in pay­ments from buy­ers.

In­vestors from across the world sank their life sav­ings into the pro­posed An­gel­gate pro­ject, which was be­ing de­vel­oped by Pin­na­cle Al­liance.

Pin­na­cle, who Glaswe­gian Free­man worked for as a con­sul­tant, had planned to build 344 apart­ments in Manch­ester.

But not a sin­gle brick has been laid on the site since its launch in 2015, even though com­ple­tion was planned for ear­lier this year.

Now ad­min­is­tra­tors have pulled the plug on the An­gel­gate pro­ject as a hunt be­gins for the in­vestors’ miss­ing mil­lions.

Free­man, 50, from New­ton Mearns, was jailed for 18 months in 2006 for de­fraud­ing his fundrais­ing firm of £450,000 days be­fore they went bust.

Pin­na­cle, who are still trad­ing, are also the sub­ject of sep­a­rate po­lice and HMRC in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Last week a liq­uida­tor was ap­pointed to try to get buy­ers their money back.

Many paid up to 80 per cent of the ask­ing price to se­cure their plot and as much as £ 500,000 in de­posits.

An­gel gate were put into ad­min­is­tra­tion fol­low­ing a court ac­tion by a buy­ers’ group set up to try to re­cover their money.

Uni­ver­sity lec­turer James es Sex­ton, 38, from Manch­ester, who is head­ing the An­gel­gate ac­tion group, lost £109,000.

He said: “We can hope­fully se­cure the as­sets and, if pos­si­ble, in­ves­ti­gate the where­abouts of the pro­jectt money and min­imise our losses.s.

“If any ac­tion can be tak­e­nen against the di­rec­tors and other her par­ties in­volved, the buy­ers rs would wel­come it.”

In Septem­ber last year, af­ter er con­tin­ued de­lays with work, 73 buy­ers re­ported the firm to the he UK’s Ac­tion Fraud agency. Thereere were even demon­stra­tions by in­vestors in Hong Kong.

The case was passed on to Greater Manch­ester Po­lice and d then taken over by Ti­tan, the Re­gional Or­gan­ised Crime Unit for the north-west of Eng­land.

Ti­tan said: “There have been a num­ber of re­fer­rals from dif­fer­ent po­lice forces con­cern­ing in­vest­ment fraud.”

Dun­can Swift, of ad­min­is­tra­tors Moore Stephens, said: “We want to hear from those who in­vested in An­gel­gate and any de­vel­op­ers who have an in­ter­est in see­ing the de­vel­op­ment com­pleted.”

In July, the of­fices of Pin­na­cle in Manch­ester and a home in Chea­dle Hulme, Cheshire, were raided by HMRC. A 50-year-old man and his wife, 37, were ar­rested at the house and re­leased later that day af­ter ques­tion­ing.

An An­gel­gate spokes­woman said: “We will en­deav­our to work with and help the ap­pointed ad­min­is­tra­tor in any way they re­quire to com­plete the build.”

Free­man’s Pais­ley-based firm So­lu­tions RMC raised £13mil­lion for two char­i­ties over seven years – but only £1.5mil­lion went to the groups. He also paid him­self £170,000 a year.

Af­ter his re­lease from jail in 2007, Free­man set up in busi­ness in Manch­ester. He could not be reached for com­ment.

Buy­ers would wel­come ac­tion against the firm’s di­rec­tors

BUST The An­gel­gate pro­ject in Manch­ester LIFE OF LUX­URY Fraud­ster Tony Free­man, left, en­joys a first-class flight


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