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International investigation begins as firm creating flats in Bradford goes bust owing millions of pounds : Absolute Living Developments Ltd

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Former Eton pupil named as mastermind behind alleged multi-million pound property development scam


A former public schoolboy has been named as the alleged mastermind behind a multi-million pound property development fraud, according to High Court papers.

Charles Cunningham, whose time at Eton overlapped with Prince William’s, has been identified in court papers as controlling a series of companies used to defraud Asian investors of millions of pounds by enticing them with UK developments that were never completed.

The son of a City financier, Mr Cunningham, whose brother Rupert is friends with some of Prince Harry’s inner circle, lives in a large country estate in North Wales with his wife. The couple boast a who’s who of society contacts.


Mr Cunningham, 38, flatly denies all the allegations and has said that he is confident that a High Court hearing will overturn the freezing order which was brought by the liquidator of Absolute Living Developments.


He has been accused of being one of the masterminds behind ALD, which offered five large development projects in northern England that were marketed to investors in the Far East and South-East Asia.


But in April 2016 the company, which boasted developments in Runcorn, Manchester and Bradford, went into liquidation.

ALD is one of a raft of UK property companies that have become mired in controversy in Asia. Hong Kong investors and politicians have accused the UK authorities and police of turning a blind eye to multi-million pound ‘fraud’.


Hong Kong politicians have reported ALD to the Serious Fraud Office and have also asked the Chinese government to protect the interests of Chinese investors in UK property projects. The news comes as Beijing attempts to slow down the outflow of capital from the country.

Liquidator Louise Brittain was recently granted a £14.5 million freezing order in the High Court, designed to prevent ‘steps to dissipate or secrete assets’ from ALD by Mr Cunningham and a business partner.


In her High Court affidavit in support of the order, the liquidator said she had discovered that ‘a substantial proportion of the monies owed and/or paid to ALD…had been wrongfully diverted’ to three companies, named as DS7, Gozon and EPG Manlet.


Brittain states that the ‘three companies form part of a complex structure of entities under the control’ of Mr Cunningham and his alleged business partner, which, she claims, ‘has been used to defraud investors (most of whom are based in Hong Kong and Malaysia)’.


Mr Cunningham told The Mail on Sunday: ‘These monies were not wrongfully diverted and a forensic report is currently being prepared which will establish the exact payments and the legitimacy of those payments made by these companies.’ ALD, set up in 2013 to market properties, is linked to a Salford-based company called Fresh Start Living. In 2011, Mr Cunningham was brought in as the face of FSL, but the firm went bankrupt in 2013 with debts of more than £2 million.


Mr Cunningham, whose ancestors include baronets and a Founding Father of the American constitution, has a social media profile showing that he is Facebook friends with Ben Vestey, a close friend of Prince William, and Edward Guinness, a scion of the brewing family.


In April 2016, Mr Cunningham bought a large Georgian country house in North Wales for more than a million pounds. It has played host to visiting literary giants Lord Byron, William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. Mr Cunningham told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The freezing order is a cynical abuse of power. DS7 categorically refutes all claims and allegations made by Louise Brittain and it will challenge the injunction and debunk any allegations with the very facts and evidence that they have deliberately withheld.’

In the court papers, the liquidator states that ALD would take 50 per cent of the purchase price usually before the company had even bought the property. Investors complain that the properties were never actually completed.


Mr Cunningham admitted that some had not been finished, but blamed a group of Malaysian businessmen who he claimed were the ultimate owners of ALD. 


Source: Adam Luck – Mail on Sunday

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  • 1 year later...

Property developers banned after abusing £12m of investments

Six directors have been banned for a total of 54 years after they misled more than 300 people to invest £12 million

into residential property developments.


Four of the directors are based in Malaysia, including Kien Cheong Yew who has been disqualified for 12 years, while the remaining two live in The Wirral and Kilburn, North-West London, respectively. The investigation conducted by the Insolvency Service centred on property development company Absolute Living Developments Limited. The company sold apartments in England off-plan to investors who were largely based in Asia. It is estimated that Absolute Living Developments secured at least £12 million from people to invest in residential property schemes that were in various states of development.


Daniel Mark Harrison (38), from Kilburn North-West London, was the last of the directors to be disqualified and he was banned for 6 years through a court order on 28 November 2018. During Daniel Harrison’s hearings, the court heard that Absolute Living Developments Limited was incorporated in November 2013, with registered offices in Liverpool. The company sought out investments to convert commercial buildings into residential properties. The developments were located in in the North of England, predominately Bradford and Greater Manchester.


However, people complained that having invested through Absolute Living Developments, the developments had not been fully completed and the apartments were unliveable. Absolute Living Developments was wound-up by order of the courts in April 2016 following the presentation of a petition by Bradford Council due to unpaid rates and investigations that followed principally focused on 4 developments, 3 in Bradford and 1 in Manchester. Investigators discovered various examples of misconduct by Absolute Living Developments facilitated by the directors.


The company provided misleading and incomplete information about the developments to investors, meaning people couldn’t carry out due diligence. Absolute Living Developments had no ability to ensure the terms of contracts with investors could be met and failed to provide adequate safeguards for money obtained from investors. For one of the developments, Absolute Living Developments requested completion payments from investors despite the development not being completed. And the company signed charges over Absolute Living Developments’ assets, which meant that a third party owns them and there are no remaining assets in the liquidation to pay creditors.


An independent insolvency practitioner has been appointed in this case to investigate recovery of assets for the benefit of creditors. The liquidator’s actions are ongoing and to date they have received claims from creditors in excess of £68 million. Ken Beasley, Official Receiver for the Insolvency Service said: This was a complex investigation, considering the amount of money that was invested, not all of the directors were based in the UK and we worked with several other authorities. We want to draw attention to these rogue directors so we can alert people about the risks involved when investing, while also warning that we will investigate and tackle those that set out to deliberately rip people off by misrepresenting the investment opportunity on offer.


Company details


Absolute Living Developments Limited (Company number: 08766275) was incorporated on 07 November 2013. The former registered office was located at Horton House, 6th Floor Exchange Flags, Liverpool L2 3PF Total liabilities are estimated to amount to £68,842,400


Disqualified directors


Kien Cheong Yew (40) from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Disqualified from 29 January 2018 to 28 January 2030 (12 years) as a result of an undertaking.


Ameerali Bin Abas (39) from Selangor, Malaysia. Disqualified from 27 June 2018 to 26 June 2027 (9 years) as a result of an undertaking.


Andrea Nicole Pacquiao Pieter (30) from Selangor, Malaysia. Disqualified from 20 March 2018 to 19 March 2027 (9 years) as a result of an undertaking.


Adrianne Mei Kwan Nyau (40) from The Wirral. Disqualified from 14 December 2017 to 13 December 2026 (9 years) as a result of an undertaking.


Chi Yeun Leong (68) from Bangsar, Malaysia. Disqualified from 21 December 2017 to 20 December 2026 (9 years) as a result of an undertaking.


Daniel Mark Harrison (38) from Kilburn North-West London. Disqualified from 28 November 2018 to 27 November 2024 (6 years) as a result of a court order.

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  • 2 years later...

Until now, it is often possible to face fraud related to real estate. Two years ago, I bought an apartment in a house that was still under construction in Thailand. Until now, the house is not completed and construction has stopped. All this looks very suspicious and it seems to me that the house will never be completed and I will lose my investment. I decided to seek the help of private detective thailand in order for them to investigate the construction company. As a result, I learned that this is an unscrupulous company and it will be quite difficult to get my money back. I advise everyone to be careful and check the company before you buy something.

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