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Condo scheme investors unlikely to get money back

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Investors who put money into a Costa Rica property scheme launched by husband and wife David and Antoinette Bolden are unlikely to see any return on their cash, according to the Official Receiver.

KPMG, acting as agent for the Official Receiver, is investigating the affairs of EFG International Realty LP1 (EFGIR), a Bermuda limited partnership which invested in real estate in the Central American country.

Mr Bolden was president of the company and its affairs were organised by Emerald International Management Limited (EIML), a regulated financial firm owned by the couple.

Investors are believed to have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Costa Rica condominium scheme but KPMG says there is little left to show for it.

Lloyd Larson, a private detective from Canada, is also investigating the two companies on behalf of two investors who have lost money.

He was in Bermuda earlier this month to speak with KPMG and regulators.

“Right now what we are trying to do is get anyone who has invested in this investment with the Boldens to come forward to me,” he said, adding that the number of investors was unknown.

One of his clients told

The Royal Gazette she put $25,000 into the condo scheme.

“I was told that I would get my money back with interest once the construction was completed and sold,” said the woman, who asked not to be named.

“KPMG later told me that a condo was found amongst the Boldens’ assets but it was only worth $190,000 and there were so many bills outstanding on the property that it was unlikely there would be any money left over once the condo was sold.”

Mr and Mrs Bolden, of Harrington Sound Road, Hamilton Parish, were found guilty of misleading the BMA and not guilty of theft and money laundering allegations in relation to their Emerald Financial Group of Companies by a Supreme Court jury in June.

The couple lost an appeal against their conviction concerning the BMA last week.

The Emerald Group of Companies, including EIML, is being wound up by KPMG after the BMA took enforcement action in summer 2009 due to concerns about the firm’s liquidity.

Charles Thresh, from KPMG, told this newspaper that EIML was the general partner (GP) of EFGIR.

He said: “As GP, EIML organised the affairs of EFGIR, including taking in subscriptions from investors, who became limited partners in EFGIR. We understand that the purpose of EFGIR was to invest in real estate in Costa Rica.

“The Official Receiver (OR), Stephen Lowe, was appointed liquidator of EIML on August 3, 2009, and receiver and manager of EFGIR on April 8, 2010.

“KPMG Advisory Ltd has acted as agent for the OR since his appointment. Under the relevant court orders, the OR assumed all powers of management over EIML and EFGIR from the date of appointment.

“The records of EFGIR obtained by KPMG Advisory following the OR’s appointment were not complete and KPMG Advisory have undertaken an investigation of the affairs of EFGIR, including tracing limited partner investors.

“Since our appointment, we have identified only one tangible asset of EFGIR, a condominium in the Pacifico development in Costa Rica.

“An option on another property was purchased in the Sonesta development; however, the development was foreclosed by the financiers of the property developer.

“Unfortunately, it is expected that a distribution, if any, to EFGIR investors will represent a small fraction of amounts invested.”

Mr Larson showed this newspaper a limited partners report for EFGIR dated March 2008 from Mr Bolden.

It told investors that two properties had been purchased in Costa Rica: the Sonesta Jaco unit luxury one-bed for $192,500 and the Pacifico luxury two-bed in Guancaste province for $228,500.

The report said the partnership continued to “post encouraging returns” and the value of the properties had risen by 147 percent since they were bought.

Mr Larson, a former police detective from Ontario who specialises in financial investigations, also shared the limited partnership agreement. It states that the general partner will get 20 percent of any profits, with 80 percent going to investors.

A BMA spokeswoman said: “The liquidation proceedings the Authority initiated against three licensed companies in the Emerald Financial Group (EFG), in conjunction with the Registrar of Companies and in relation to regulatory concerns, is in progress.

“As such, the liquidation remains under the purview of the appointed liquidator KPMG and the Official Receiver; it would therefore be inappropriate to discuss details of ongoing matters related to those proceedings.

“However, the Authority remains engaged with the liquidator as required and can provide appropriate information to support ongoing progress.”

A Bermuda Police Service spokesman had no comment.

The Boldens could not be reached for comment. Their lawyer, Andrew Martin, did not respond to e-mails and telephone calls on Friday.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario told The Royal Gazette last week that Mrs Bolden was suspended as a member of the organisation due to non-payment of membership fees in October 2010.

n Anyone interested in speaking to Mr Larson should e-mail larson.caribbean[AT]gmail.com.

Private investigator Lloyd Larson. (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Antoinette and David Bolden. Photo by Glenn Tucker
Antoinette and David Bolden.

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Published March 19, 2012 at 10:00 am (Updated March 19, 2012 at 10:13 am)

Condo scheme investors unlikely to get money back

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