Hawkhurst Capital Plc, a purported investment management company, has been wound-up by the High Court in Manchester for misleading investors.
In the investigation by the Insolvency Service, it was discovered that potential participants were selected on the basis of their interest in releasing pension funds prior to reaching pensionable age.
Hawkhurst made this discovery through cold-calling and targeted website advertisements, and then made it a perquisite for responders to invest their pension funds.
Participants to the scheme then attained the early release part of their pension funds by way of extended unsecured loans from a company based in the Seychelles.
They were then prevented from selling the Hawkhurst shares prior to 31 December 2026 by a lock-in agreement.
In the course of the investigation, these shares were found to be of no value.
Although the company’s financial statements detail a rise in its sole investment, a Seychelles-based company, Hawkhurst failed to provide any independent evidence proving the authenticity of the investment or valuation.
The alleged increase in its investment went from £250,000 in January 2011, to £11,977,849 within a year.
Colin Cronin, investigation supervisor with Company Investigations, said: “The structure of this early pension release scheme was deliberately opaque and the lack of transparency was added to by a failure on the part of the directors of Hawkhurst Capital Plc to cooperate with the investigation.
“The operation of the scheme was highly prejudicial to the individuals who were required to invest their pension funds in Hawkhurst Capital Plc shares in order to obtain the early release of part of these funds.
The Court found that the company had operated with a lack of transparency and a lack of commercial probity.