Four arrested in £140m property fraud case


The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has raided three homes and made four arrests in Merseyside and Greater Manchester as it announced it is investigating collapsed property developer Signature Group. 

Credit: Serious Fraud Office.

Signature attracted more than a thousand UK and international investors in the redevelopment of iconic landmarks, including Belfast’s Scottish Mutual Building and the Coal Exchange in Cardiff. 

The group operated for more than seven years, buying up mainly historic buildings within the UK for redevelopment into luxury hotels, residential apartments and office spaces. 

Investors loaned money to Signature or purchased a hotel room, apartment or office space in one of the group’s properties, with promised returns on their investment of between 8-15 per cent.  

However, the Liverpool-based business collapsed into administration in 2020 with losses of up to £140 million.  

Properties in the group’s portfolio included Millennium House, also in Liverpool, as well as a cruise liner marketed as a “flotel” to be moored off Canary Wharf in London and travel to Ibiza.  

The operation today was supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA). 

Nick Ephgrave, director of the SFO, said: “The scheme offered attractive returns and used much-loved local landmarks to lure investors. 

“We have people up and down the country left out of pocket, and buildings left derelict at the centre of our cities. 

 “Today’s arrests and searches will help us reconstruct exactly what happened. This is now an active criminal investigation.” 

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