A group of about Hong Kong investors have sought government help after losing more than HK$30 million (US$3.86 million) in a suspected real estate investment scam in the United Kingdom, Ming Pao Daily reported Friday.
The complainants were lured into investing in two real estate projects in Birmingham and Leicester in 2012, according to legislator James To, who received complaints from 60 of the 90 investors. The sales pitch was that investors could rent out the apartments to students and secure a regular income.
The two projects were supposed to involve more than 360 apartments worth about HK$137 million, and the Hong Kong investors bought at least 87 units, the report said.
However, it turned out that contrary to the claims of the developers, the projects never started construction and the builders are now going through a bankruptcy protection process.
The investors, who failed to get back their down payments, have sought the help of the UK and Hong Kong police as well as the Securities and Futures Commission.
According to data provided by the complainants, To said the apartments, costing about HK$750,000 each, were sold in the UK, Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia. Interested buyers were asked to pay half of the amount as down payment plus a lawyer’s fee of HK$12,000.
Investment schemes sold in Hong Kong are regulated under the Securities and Futures Ordinance. Anyone who sells such projects in Hong Kong must first obtain a license from SFC.
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