Churchills and Goldthorpe Property Fraud

Churchills, a Karl Goldthorpe run company filed for liquidation last year. Many investors lost money in what has been described by a top city solicitor as "an obvious large scale fraud". This blog is designed to inform other victims and interested parties in the sorry history of this affair. We would also like fellow victims to post their own story, as a comment, so that there is a single site with the whole story presented.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Paul Wade

We have been told that Paul Wade (ex financial director of Churchills) is now involved in another company: Island Debt Management. Perhaps he is offering advice to the hundreds of decent folk who have lost tens of thousands of pounds due to his fraudulent activities with Churchills.

But seriously how can this con-man be allowed to keep trading in the financial sector when he is under investigation, by the Police, for large scale fraud?

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Full Scale of the Fraud

We have recently discovered the full extent of the Churchill fraud.  Here are the numbers:
  • Churchill Beach (Tahkuranna): 168 plots/properties - all sold
  • Churchill Village: 20 properties - all sold
  • Parnu River: 80 properties - all sold
  • Audru Golf Resort - about 30 units.  If anyone knows the exact size of this development can they let us know
  • Cape Verde: about 40 properties sold
  • Goa: 40 - 50 deposits taken and not passed on
This gives a total of about 380 victims, and we estimate the total loss to be at least £4M.  So there are about 240 people who may not know that they have lost their investment.  



Monday, 27 April 2009

The Police Investigation

The investigation is now being undertaken by the Economic Crime Unit of the Hampshire Police. They would like any investor not currently known to the investigation team (all known investors have recently already been emailed) to get in touch by either:
  • Emailing: operation.coil@hampshire.pnn.police.uk
  • By post: The Economic Crime Unit, Southern Support and Training Headquarters, Hamble Lane, Hamble, Hampshire SO31 4TS, quoting OP Coil in any correspondence.
In due course a member of the investigation team will then be in touch.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Braganza World

We have talked to Carol McCartney, who was the intermediary between the builder and Churchills in marketing the Braganza World properties. She experienced at first hand the business practices of Karl Goldthorpe and Paul Wade. She says that they were very slow in sending deposits for Braganza World to the builder from April 2007. After much hassle she managed to get 116 first deposits sent to Braganza Constructions, but estimates that there are 40-50 other deposits that were never sent by Churchills. In December 2007 she blew the whistle on what was going on by insisting that Churchills set up a seperate account in the UK only for Braganza World deposits and she insisted on seeing evidence of that account. They ignored that demand and she then decided to open up what was happening. In an ongoing dialogue, she accused Karl of fraud and copied in all the Churchill staff with her opinion and the response she was getting from the directors. Karl and Paul were abusive and threatening to her, but she continued to insist on this account being set up. At this point, she says Andrew Jonathan Kemp Goldthorpe and Naren Cox left CIS. Wade left officially in October 2007 but there was ongoing dialogue between him and Goldthorpe re. missing money. Churchills continued to take deposits on the Braganza development in 2008, although none of these were passed on.

She says that Ryan Braganza (the developer of Braganza World) is, in her opinion, an honest man, who has been caught up in a difficult political situation in Goa that is entirely seperate to the Churchills issue. But she thinks he is genuine in trying to put together a proper development.

See this site for further details of efforts being made to recover deposits.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

It Seems Crime Does Pay

It appears that Karl Goldthorpe is back in business, with a new operation called Berlite Leisure and Development.  Its on the Isle of Wight and of course it will sell you overseas property

www.berliteleisure.co.uk

I phoned this company yesterday and asked to speak to Karl Goldthorpe. They said "he's not in at the moment, but if you leave your details he'll phone you when he returns".

What has happened to this country ?!!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Churchill Development in Estonia

After advertising four different developments in Estonia and taking millions of pounds in deposits, these three wooden quads are all that were ever actually built. This photograph was taken at Takhuranna in Febuary 2009 (click on the picture to enlarge). To quote the photographer: "They are all incomplete and should ideally be pulled down as they create a real eyesore".

Nonetheless Churchills actually completed on at least two of these flats. One investor payed out £40K for one of them, but was never even given the deeds or keys. She is simply left with paying the local land tax, and a loss of a huge sum of money.

Here are the comments of a qualified architect on the design of the quads:

"I am very sorry to tell you but these drawings and spec look awful.
1) anybody has access to the roof terrace - no privacy, anybody can just go there while you’re asleep or away
2) the roof terraces are the most unimaginative spaces I’ve ever seen - no consistency in materials, weird shape, column right in the middle of it - nobody will ever use them (especially since the apartments appear to be 1 beds - much too large a space for a couple to spend a romantic evening up there), also since you can’t keep anything of any value up there (see 1)
3) the layout of the bungalow doesn’t make any sense to me: an entrance space as large as the (presumed) bedroom, 3 small rooms - bathrooms? Storage rooms? None of them anywhere near the bedroom, and lastly you are left with a space (kitchen & sitting room?) in an absolute weird shape - quite obviously nothing more but left- over space. Very deep, on top of that, the back of this ’room’ will be very dark. I don’t understand what this layout is for. Definitely not suitable for a holiday flat in my opinion.
4) I don’t understand why they are bungalows, a two-storey building for example would at least create the opportunity for the roof terrace being populated
5) There is no information on the surrounding, how these buildings will relate to each other, what kind of organizational system (roads, pathways leading up to front doors, car parking, rubbish bins, front gardens, terraces, closeness of neighbouring buildings, number of neighbouring buildings etc) will tie the place together
6) Exterior material seems to be wood - how is this going to be maintained?
7) Plans, Spec and rendering appear to having been done by a first year student - I have never in my life come across a description such as ‘Appendix 1’, any professional practice would provide detail drawings of the joints/ wall build-ups instead of vaguely describing them!
8) The provided information lacks detail - if construction is due to begin in may (day after tomorrow) this is either worrying (presuming these are the latest drawings) since they are nowhere near a level which could be realised, or more worrying (presuming these are not the latest drawings, but the only ones issued for the client to see), since this would mean the developer deliberately withholds information of which he fears the client would not be satisfied. You need to find out whether there is more detailed information available."

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Further Contact

We have recently been in contact with a group of around 30 investors in the Braganza World development.   Off plan property on this  site in Goa was sold by Churchills.  The development never happened and as with so many of the Churchill related properties never even had planning permission.  A combination of Churchills and the developer in Goa, Ryan Braganza, have simply walked off with the money.  More information 

The total number of known victims of the fraud is now around 150.  The cumulative loss is now over £1.5M

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Credit Card Refunds

Two investors who made their initial payment to Churchills with a credit card have now had a full refund (all their loss, not just the initial payment) from the card issuer.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Churchill Company Information

Here is the information we obtained from Companies House. Notice that both CIS and CPO are not yet liquidated, although accounts are overdue for both. We also have a copy of the letter sent out by Goldthorpe to some clients claiming that CIS had been liquidated. The images become full size when clicked.




Monday, 16 February 2009

Credit Card Payments

It may be possible to fully recover lost deposits if the initial payment was made by credit card.

See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/working_lunch/7593369.stm

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Story has appeared in the Mail on Sunday

The first appearance of this story is in todays Mail on Sunday.  Link will follow when it is available.








Friday, 6 February 2009

Recent Developments

Over the latter part of last summer we talked to a top city law firm.  They immediately indicated an obvious fraud and told us to find out if the directors of Churchills had assets that we could go for in a civil action.  Our investigation revealed a trail of asset hiding, and even though Karl Goldthorpe (MD of Churchills) at the time, personally owned, often with other members of his family, seven (!) properties there was no large sum of money we could touch.  Civil action did not therefore seem possible.  So we began to press for a criminal investigation.  Many victims have, and are, giving statements to the Police and Karl Goldthorpe is currently on bail as the investigation proceeds.  

This year we have also been in contact with the media.  The story should break in the press very soon and we will post any links to the story when it appears.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Perpetrators

It is quite difficult to identify the extent to which individuals were involved in this, so we will simply give a factual account of what we know, and let you make your own mind up about culpability.

The directors of the final version of Churchills, CIS, were:

  • Karl Goldthorpe (MD)
  • Dale Pilkington (Sales), previously worked for Perfect Day (see earlier post).
  • Paul Wade (Finance), left CIS in February 2008
Other people involved:
  • Andrew Jonathan Kemp Goldthorpe, salesman and younger brother of Karl
  • Gary Smith, KGs right hand man and salesman
  • Charlie Pritchard, salesman
  • Naren Cox, who tells us he was a "self employed salesman who resigned from CIS December 2007 on his discovery of the directors of Churchills fraudulent activity."
  • Stuart D'Costa, salesman and brother in law of Karl and Andrew. Left CPO and now works for the Isle of Wight Police
Churchill OU: The Estonian company that was meant to build the developments

Directors:
  • Karl Goldthorpe
  • Lee Williams
Others involved:
  • Harriet Saunders (step daughter of Lee Williams)
  • Jordie Williams (son of Lee Williams)

Frinteel: The Estonian company that owns the land in Estonia

Directors:
  • Karl Goldthorpe
  • Katherine D'Costa (KGs sister)
  • Andrew Jonathan Kemp Goldthorpe
Shareholders:
  • Walter Goldthorpe (KGs father)
  • Karl Goldthorpe
  • Katherine D'Costa
  • Andrew Jonathan Kemp Goldthorpe
  • Elizabeth Goldthorpe (KGs mother)
Balti Paradiis: Estonian Company that fronted the Valgeranna Golf development (that never happened)

Directors:
  • Lee Williams
  • Chris Tonkinson
Braganza Constructions, Goa: Never started and never had planning permission for Braganza World - property sold by Churchills in the UK

Director:
  • Ryan Braganza

More Details

Karl Goldthorpe

He is the central figure to this whole affair. He owns seven properties (that we know of), six of which are on the Isle of Wight and one is in Cyprus, and is clearly a very rich man. Some of his property is co-owned by other members of his family - his parents, sister and brother. In fact the whole family seems to be closely intertwined in the business. Some of the land in Estonia was co-owned by the whole family. The directors of Frinteel are Karl Goldthorpe, Katherine D'Costa (his sister) and Andrew, his brother. The shareholders are KG, his parents, brother and sister.

Paul Wade

The finance director of the Churchills operation. He left CIS in February 2008. He was subsequently accused of defrauding CIS out of £23K. After a Police investigation no charges have been brought. His current company is Churchill Financial Solutions
(it is startling that Wade thinks that the name "Churchill" on the Isle of Wight is anything other than a label of deceit and fraud).

Dale Pilkington

Worked as a Director at Perfect Day. In early 2006 he was reported to have been recruited as a consultant by Churchills, and payed £5.500 monthly. It is not clear whether he continued to work for PD at this point. Eventually he became sales director of CIS, a position he presumably still holds.

Gary Smith

According to those who know the Churchill company setup Gary Smith is Karl Goldthorpe's right hand man. We have seen more stories of lies and deceit relating to Mr Smith than any other person involved. In fact he appears to be almost completely incapable of telling the truth to his clients. It was to our great ill fortune to come up against him and his cronies.


Lee Williams

Williams appears to be a very shady character who before his involvement with Churchills had already been involved in dubious activities in Spain. Here is the story of Dieter who worked with Wiilaims in Estonia:

"In 2005 I owned and started the project on the Valgeranna Golf Course in Pärnu. When I first met Williams, he had not even money to buy a Computer, except to pay the rent for his apartment on Tallinna Mnt.which was owned by a friend of mine. We kicked him out after the second month unpaid rent.
I have had planning permission for 62 Apartments on this site, but the Finnish and Estonian clients where shocked from my prices. One day Chris Tonkinson offered me help, he told me he has hundreds of investors in England because the pound is so strong and every one want to invest on the golf course. I believed him, because I worked 20 years in the golf business in the Algarve. I offered 5% commission to him. Several days later he invited me for a beer in City Pub in Pärnu to discuss all. Later Williams joined and apologized to me about the rent and so on. Williams offered me to sell about 5 to 10 units per month and he showed me a list of clients visiting Estonian soon, but he want 10% Commission...after a view beers I agreed.2 days later he told me the first clients arriving soon, he need some documentation, I gave him a copy of the permission, building specifications and many more. ( Now everyone could see it was no fake) Next day he called me and told that we need to make a notary agreement to guaranty his commissions. In the notary I was just over rolled from his Lawyer (Andrus Viilver) Tonkinson and Williams to sign all this Documents. It was the biggest mistake in my live, because I made Williams a Member of board in my Company Balti Paradiis. Williams was registered after 3 days in the Äriregister and with this document he went straight away to the bank and blocked all my company accounts and credit cards. I was lucky this day, because it was nearly 5 pm and the bank woman called me and explained what's up. She told him it’s too late and to come back next day with all this bank papers signed. For this reason I had the chance to transfer about 60.000 Euros to my private account, otherwise it was gone. next morning Williams went at first to the Car Leasing Company and told them that he is a Member of Board now and he want his car back.( my Car ) a view month old Grand Cherokee Jeep. After this I went around Pärnu found him and I knocked him down. I had a with the Bank Director the next day to explain, because there was a loan on one half of the land. Now I could not act anymore without Williams’s permission. I informed the entire official in construction department, architects, etc.etc.and everyone was shocked, because it was a fabulous project and welcome from the government site is well. One English guy, Russell Thompson was his buddy, but they had a fight at this time and he told me to contact someone in Spain, because Williams is wanted from the police there. I did ask around in the Malaga Aeria and got info from an English newspaper (the trading post Spain) that Williams has cheated many customers for the deposits down there, and he was in Malage Prison for a long weekend but got out on a deposit,because he was resident.he went to Gibraltar and disapeared from there. I informed Tonkinson about it and told him that he can buy more 40% or I close the site and go back to Portugal. This stupid idiot really believed it and he found 4 Investors to pay me 60.000GBP for 40%.now it was: 10% Williams, 40%Tonkinson, and 50% myself. after I received the money, I informed this "Investors" about the process, they have paid 80.000GBP,but only 60.000GBP have arrived at me (20.000GBP cash for Tonkinson).I wished them good luck, many thanks for the money and not to forget to pay the loan every month to the bank, because I move back to Portugal and the Land will be a Potato field soon, OR TO BUY THE REST50% IS WELL.However,in the next view month Tonkinson found the Money to buy me out and I got rid of the loan contract and had even some profit in the box. After this procedure Williams and Tonkinson started to take deposits on this land, and until today, there is not one brick in the ground, the same as on all other developments from Tonks and Williams."

Below is a story that appeared in a Spanish magazine:














Tuesday, 3 February 2009

History

1. The Churchill Companies

There have been a whole set of companies related to the people involved in this affair. They include:
  • Churchill Innovative Solutions(CIS)
  • Churchill Property Overseas (CPO)
  • Churchill OU (dissolved 2008)
  • Churchill Estate Agents (dissolved 2005)
  • Churchill Property Lettings (dissolved 2005)
  • Frinteel
  • Ecobuild
  • EJ Development
For the most part these companies have been located on the Isle of Wight (IoW). In all cases the (managing) director has been Karl Goldthorpe (see later). Goldthorpe left CPO in 2007.

Goldthorpe tried to put CIS into liquidation in July 2008. But after an investor protested to Companies House this was put on hold. The company still appears to exist.

Frinteel is a company registered in Estonia and the land there is registered in its name. 

Churchill OU is another Estonian company that was responsible for the property development there. It was also wound up in 2008, with one of the directors in Estonia, Lee Williams, allegedly walking off with large sums of money, although he denies this.

EJ Development held the money in the UK before it should have been transferred to Estonia.  At the beginning of 2008 it is thought that some £400K of investors money was held here.

The main function of CIS and CPO seems to have been to sell property overseas. They also started a sideline: their own attempt at property development/marketing in Estonia.

2. The Victims

The victims are in two classes: those who were trying to buy Churchill properties in Estonia and those who were buying through Churchill elsewhere. All victims were left with large losses when CIS stopped trading. We have been in contact with over 140 other investors and our cummulative loss stands at around £ 1.5M. However there may be many other people who have lost money that we simply do not know about.

2.1 Estonia

Churchills sold properties on four sites near Parnu. These were:
  • Churchill Village
  • Tahkuranna Beach Resort
  • Parnu River development
  • Audru Golf resort
Incredibly they only had planning permission for the Tahkuranna development. Here three wooden quads have been constructed, not in any way related to the original specification. Moreover the provision for sewage is apparently inadequate and all other infrastructure is missing. The site is now abandoned and neglected.

No development whatsoever has taken place at the other three sites.

2.2 Elsewhere

The story here is of Churchills taking deposits for property being developed by third parties and simply not passing on the money. This appears to be blatant theft. The developments we are aware of are:
  • Braganza World, Goa, India
  • Turtle Bay, Maio, Cape Verde
The Braganza World development never happened, and in fact never had planning permission. See this collection of stories and this website

3 Perfect Day (PD)

The final piece in the puzzle is the financial advisory company Perfect Day (now, surprise surprise, in liquidation). PD recommended to many of its clients that that they should invest through Churchills (they were actually charging for this terrible advice).

However PD had a rather incestuous relationship with Churchills, certainly not one to encourage impartial financial advice. Dale Pilkington worked for PD and set up the project of recommending Churchill's investments - at which point he left PD to become sales director at Churchills, where he remained until the company was liquidated.

Once it became obvious that the whole Estonian development had collapsed PD acted with an incredible lack of business integrity, and failed to even communicate the full facts to their clients. On the 19th of December 2008 PD went into administration and were subsequently bought by two fomer employees. They set up a new company called Ablestoke with themselves as directors. They have employed many of the Perfect Day consultants and operate from the same premises. And Ablestoke consultants are telling their original Perfect Day clients the following: "there is no change to your affairs and the admin of it. We have just changed our compliance route back to Intrinsic and hence new company set up".

Intrinsic are a financial services company who used to provide services to Perfect Day before PD changed to a company called Money Portal, who were to provide PD with substantial numbers of client leads. On the strength of the Money Portal deal PD began a big investment in expanding the business, but when things went wrong with the Money Portal deal PD had to be put into administration. The CEO of Money Portal had to resign and the CEO of Perfect Day will not be part of Ablestoke.

4. Related Fraud

Zoe Dare Hall, in her Sunday Mail Article, describes how she lost £26,000 when she invested with Balti Paradiis in the Valgeranna Golf development, Parnu. The Directors of this company were Chris Tonkinson and Lee Williams (of Churchill OU). Apparently all documents relating to the Balti Paradiis development were kept in the Churchill OU office.  Tonkinson also took money through his other company, Crichton Developments.

Once again this development never happened and some £300,000 went missing.



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About Me

We are a group of three investors who have lost money to the Churchills fraud. This blog gives background information about the fraud and about action being taken against the perpetrators