Fraudulent art investment companies wound up by courts

Two art investment companies – one based in Warrington – who fraudulently took more than half a million pounds from investors have been wound up by the courts.

Wardells Design Limited and Camp Partners Limited were wound up in the public interest on December 4, in the High Court, Manchester, before District Judge Bever. The Official Receiver has been appointed liquidator of the companies.

The two companies came to the attention of the Insolvency Service in connection with previous investigations into associated companies, Halifax Mannin Ltd, Hey Design Services Ltd, Gem Tobin Ltd and Dionysus Design Services Ltd.

All of the associated companies were wound up in the public interest in 2019, having abused investors’ funds of almost £2.5m.

Following confidential enquiries, investigators found that Wardells Design, based in Warrington, and Camp Partners, based in Ipswich, received payments from people who thought they were investing in works of art painted by renowned artists.

The court heard that similar to the companies wound up in 2019, Wardells Design and Camp Partners worked as part of a multimillion-pound art investment scheme operated from Spain or Morocco by a separate business using a number of names.

Between March 2019 and February 2020, Wardells Design and Camp Partners received £600,000 from investors.

All of the funds were removed from the companies’ bank accounts with investigators unable to determine how it was spent.

The court wound up the two companies on the grounds they traded with a lack of commercial probity, having been incorporated or used as vehicles for fraud with their sole purpose being to receive monies wrongly obtained as investments from members of the public.

The court also accepted that the companies, and those individuals in control of them, traded with a lack of transparency, failed to cooperate with the investigation and failed to maintain or deliver up accounting records.

David Hope, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “These companies were used as part of a cynical scam targeting members of the public, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, and took more than £600,000 from them.

“There is no evidence that this investment had any value or is likely to generate any return for investors.

“The winding up of these companies following our investigation has put a stop to these activities and prevents them from causing any further harm.

“We would advise anyone considering an investment of this nature to exercise caution and take independent financial advice before doing so.”