TONY HETHERINGTON: Have my water bonds sunk?

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below. 

M.M. writes: Other investors and I purchased investment bonds from Global Water Group Limited valued at nearly £900,000 in total. 

The company assured us they had been in business for six years with good returns, and that capital was fully protected by assets. 

Now the company is in liquidation, with no explanation of where our money has gone. 

Mystery: Global Water Group has gone into liquidation

Tony Hetherington replies: Global Water Group (which has no connection to an American company of the same name) certainly made some impressive claims. It described itself as ‘a high level network of investors in, and advisers on, issues related to water supply whose members include heads of state, leaders in the global water industry, leading universities and academic institutions, wealth management firms, philanthropists, pension funds and high net worth investors’. 

Not bad for a company with just one director, that was set up in 2012 yet, according to Companies House, was dormant until at least 2017 and possibly 2018, when the formation agent signed it over to director Michael Livesey, from Basildon in Essex. 

He ran the company until October 2019 when he handed it over to Ross Perry, also from Basildon, and Perry was in control until last May when he decided to put the business into liquidation. 

When it was offering interest-bearing bonds, Global Water told investors that all their money would go into ‘water technology’, reflecting what it described as ‘our success in the global water markets’. 

Reassuringly, it mentioned the company’s own corporate account with well-known broker Hargreaves Lansdown. 

However, Hargreaves Lansdown has told me: ‘There is no record of a client account under that name.’ 

Even more worryingly, director Ross Perry is already known to me. He was a director of a scam carbon credit investment company called London Green Financial which went bust in 2013. 

And in 2012 he was briefly a director of Elite Asset Exchange, which promoted storage units as an investment. It went into liquidation in 2015, one step ahead of being struck off by Companies House. 

Global Water has never produced any trading accounts, and Perry has told its liquidators that its assets amount to a possible £81,000 in bank accounts. Yet its 2018 balance sheet shows the company held investments worth £528,000 and was owed a further £250,000. So where did all this money go? 

Similarly, company records show that Global Water paid £500,000 for an option to purchase land. What land? Where is it? Who was paid half a million pounds of investors’ money? And why is there no mention of this in the assets Perry declared to the liquidators? 

There are other mysteries too. You are not the only investor to contact me. Between you, I have been given details of three employees of Global Water. 

Yet a list of creditors drawn up by the liquidators does not mention any money owed to employees, nor any tax or national insurance contributions owed to the taxman. It is amazingly unusual for any company with employees to go broke yet leave not a penny owing to them or Revenue & Customs. Do those employees even exist, I wonder? 

TOP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS

Global’s directors Perry and Livesey failed to offer any information or comments on this or any other question I put to them. The liquidators Carter Clark (who were also liquidators when Perry closed down London Green Financial) declined to say whether they had informed the police of the false claims made to investors, but did tell me that ‘reports to various government bodies have been made, but the contents of these reports are strictly confidential’. 

Carter Clark will issue a progress report to investors in May, but there is no indication whether this will answer the basic question of where more than £800,000 of investors’ money has gone. In the absence of a proper police investigation, it looks as if Global Water’s money has simply gone down the drain. 

Why did Booking.com take £800 for trip I couldn’t make? 

Ms L.W. writes: I booked an apartment in London through Booking. com and paid almost £800, but two weeks later everyone went into lockdown so we were unable to go. 

I agreed to postpone the trip, but when I later tried to rebook I found the apartment was no longer listed, but Booking.com had already handed the money over to the apartment’s owner. 

Locked out: Ms L.W. booked an apartment in London through Booking. com and paid almost £800 for an apartment

Locked out: Ms L.W. booked an apartment in London through Booking. com and paid almost £800 for an apartment

Tony Hetherington replies: You tried to claim a refund from your credit card issuer, but were told that you could not have your money back as you did not book directly with the apartment owner. In short, your dispute was with Booking.com. 

Normally, Booking.com only transfers payments to property owners after the dates for which the property was booked. It is not clear whether Booking.com was fully aware of the agreed change of dates, but staff there confirmed to me that they did not know until it was too late that the apartment owner had simply stopped renting it out. 

Booking.com has now given you a full refund of £794. 

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned. 

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