‘My wife looks after our stocks’
co-working spaces. Mrs Richards said: “We thought it was helpful for people.” A year later this investment had lost them £57,728, joining 50 other Britons who together lost almost £2m. Hundreds of overseas investors were also drawn in by promises of returns of up to 15pc.
Based in New York, Bar Works was not regulated by the FCA to deal with British investors. Instead it used a web of agent companies who instructed investors to transfer money to Centralfx (CFX), a regulated London-based currency exchange firm. CFX sent the money in dollars to Bar Works.
Mrs Richards said: “Everything is unclear and they keep it that way so you don’t know what is going on.
“There were no signatures on any paperwork, no named individuals.”
Bar Works collapsed in April after the FBI extradited from Morocco its British founder, Renwick Haddow, 49, alias Jonathan Black, amid allegations Bar Works was part of a Ponzi scheme used to defraud investors of more than £28m.
Mr Haddow was charged by a New York court in June 2017 with fraud relating to Bar Works, and could face 40 years in prison. He is accused of creating fictitious senior executives, lying about the performance of his investments, and diverting millions of dollars from Bar Works’ accounts to his own in Mauritius and Morocco.
Five years earlier, in July 2013, Mr Haddow was mired in a similar legal case in Britain brought by the Financial Conduct Authority, over two other unregulated investment schemes. This March the High Court ruled Mr Haddow and others must pay £16.9m restitution for unlawfully and deceptively promoting the schemes to investors.
Before the end of that protracted legal battle, however, Mr Haddow left Britain for America, where he set up Bar Works.
Michael Cotter of law firm Setfords, who acts for the 50 British investors who lost out when Bar Works collapsed, argues basic corporate research by CFX into the man they were doing business with would have discovered the link. He Continued on page 11