David Ames has appeared in court to face fraud charges in connection with Harlequin Property.
David Ames, 65, chairman of the Harlequin Group of companies, had three counts of fraud by abuse of position put to him at Westminster Magistrates Court.
The case follows a four-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), with Essex Police, into the group of companies.
The Harlequin Property scheme had endorsements from celebrities including former Wimbledon winner Pat Cash, golf legend Gary Player, football pundit Andy Townsend, TV property guru Phil Spender, and Liverpool Football Club.
Off-plan properties are those that are purchased by an investor before they have been developed or completed.
Ames, a former double-glazing salesman from Wickford, Essex, began selling the properties at planned resorts across St Vincent, St Lucia, and Barbados, but many were never built, it is claimed by the SFO.
Ames made no pleas at the brief hearing, as it was transferred to Southwark Crown Court for a hearing next month.
The three charges, which all relate to abuse of position contrary to section one of the Fraud Act 2006, were read out to him in court.
The first charge is: "Between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2013, that you have dishonestly abused your position as a person in control of Harlequin Management Services South East Limited (HMSSE), in which you were expected to safeguard or not to act against the financial interests of investors who had dealing with HMSEE by inducing investors to enter into contracts for the purpose of off-plan properties which were located outside the UK.
“When the true state of affairs of those properties was such as to expose those investors to risk of loss, intending thereby to make a gain for yourself or another."
The second was the same in nature but the alleged abuse of position at HMSEE was between February 2011 and December 2013.
Buccamemnt Bay – Harlequin's flagship resort.
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you have dishonestly abused your position as a person in control of Harlequin Management Services South East Limited, in which you were expected to safeguard or not to act against the financial interests of investors.
The third charge was also the same, but related to alleged abuse of position at another of the firms Harlequin Hotels and Resorts Limited between June 2012 and June 2015.
The resorts were endorsed or advertised by a number of celebrities, including Mr Cash who put his name to a tennis academy at the flagship Buccament Bay resort in St Vincent.
There is no suggestion that the football club or any of the celebrities who endorsed or promoted the business have been involved in any alleged wrongdoing.
Ames was granted conditional bail ahead of the next hearing.
TV property guru Phil Spencer enjoys a massage at Buccament Bay in an advert for Harlequin.
He is subject to a condition of residence and must surrender his passport to Rayleigh Police Station.
He must not travel without "express permission" of the SFO and must not contact directly or indirectly prosecution witnesses.
Express.co.uk contacted Mr Cash, Mr Player, Mr Townsend and Mr Spencer through their agents but received no responses.
If you invested in Harlequin Property contact reporter Jon Austin at email@example.com.