England footballer tied up in £43M property scam

England footballer tied up in £43M property scam


An England footballer has been revealed as an alleged victim of a high profile property scam involving hundreds of Britons, according to reports in the regional paper, the Sunday Mercury.

The complex case launched against the boss of dissolved property firm Ocean View Properties Investments has taken a new twist, with footballer Gareth Barry alleged to be one of the victims.

How much the footballer is purported to have lost is unclear, but he is one of hundreds of Britons believed to have lost millions of pounds after the Midlands-based company was dissolved in 2009 owing investors a total of £43 million.

The founding director of the company, Colin Thomas, is being investigated for fraud and misappropriation of funds over the Costa Del Sol holiday home scheme.

Mr Thomas, of Yoxall, Staffs, set up the company in 2001. His associate, the late Sean Woodhall, searched for development opportunities on the Spanish coast and offered high rental yields and capital returns to potential investors.

A convicted conman, Woodhall was linked to several overseas property scams. However, in 2008 he was killed when his light aircraft crashed while flying over Brazil – his body was never recovered.

Meanwhile the company had encouraged people to remortgage their homes in Britain and plough the equity into “off-plan” apartments in Spain and the Dominican Republic.
Deposits averaging £70,000 each were then paid to Ocean View, telling customers the money would be held in “client accounts”.

As well as attracting investment from sportsmen and other celebrities, Ocean View was a sponsor of football clubs including Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, and Leicester City.

Speaking to Sunday Mercury, investor Mark Mackay said: “I paid £85,000 in advance for an apartment, but when it all started to go wrong, they offered me another in Morocco.’’

Former Leicester City captain Matt Elliott is thought to have lost around £70,000 on an Ocean View holiday home.

Mr Elliot is among 70 angry investors taking legal action against the property company to recover monies and investments in excess of £6.5 million.

Under Spanish law the claim forms part of criminal proceedings against the men, and lawyers are now planning to call Prince Albert of Monaco to give evidence as a witness at the trial.

Prosecutors believe the prince was persuaded to take part in an event linked to Ocean View, though he is not accused of any wrongdoing.
Another high profile name linked to the case is the Dominican Republic President, Leonel Fernández Reyna. The premier has also been called as a witness but is not accused of any wrongdoing.

Ocean View was involved in a number of successful enterprises, but is reported to have run into trouble following its involvement with the Spanish developer, Ricardo Miranda Miret.

After Ocean View became an agent for the developer, two investors are reported to have sunk almost a million pounds each into schemes run by Mr Miret.
The schemes included a 350 luxury apartment build at the Costa Del Sol Estepona Country Club, and a prestigious 6,000 property development in the Punta Perla region in the Dominican Republic.

Antonio Flores, a Spanish lawyer who is representing investors in the criminal case, told the Sunday Mercury: “I don’t believe Ocean View knew nothing about what was going on.”

Ocean View has also been probed by Staffordshire Police, but the Serious Fraud Office decided not to launch an investigation after a file was handed to them.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said they were “in receipt of a number of complaints alleging fraud against the company” and that officers were “considering the most appropriate way forward”.

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