There have always been wolves in sheep’s clothing ready to take unfair advantage of private investors and they can be difficult to spot without professional advice. In one case, a company that participated in the sale of coloured diamonds to the public at inflated prices was compulsorily wound up by the High Court.
The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills launched proceedings against the company on the basis that a winding up order was in the public interest. Diamonds were marketed as investment opportunities on the company’s website but markups of up to 745 per cent were applied so that purchasers could have no realistic expectation of making a return.
In granting the order sought, the Court noted that the company had failed to cooperate fully with investigators. Through his extensive experience of the diamond market, the company’s sole director and shareholder knew perfectly well that investors would almost inevitably suffer losses through the transactions that it facilitated.
The Court also granted a winding up order against a second company that, at the behest of the first, provided contrived valuations in support of prices that investors had paid. Valuation certificates provided were potentially misleading and confusing and were prepared without sight of the diamonds concerned. Both companies had traded with a lack of commercial probity, contrary to the public interest.