Insolvency Service
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Two companies shut down after £3million fraud against investors

Finance companies Satchi Holdings PLC and Hartreel Ltd wound-up after misleading investors and failing to cooperate with an investigation into the firms’ affairs

  • Brother and sister Michael Haston and Jennifer McQueen ran Satchi Holdings PLC which raised £3million from members of the public
  • Investors’ money was loaned to other companies owned by Haston and only £200,000 of customer investments were used for legitimate loans

Two finance companies have been wound up in the public interest after misleading people into investing a total of at least £3million in an unprotected bond scheme.

Satchi Holdings PLC promised safe investments in asset-backed loan notes paying up to 9% interest, but investors received minimal interest payments, no return of their investments and risked their life savings.

Satchi Holdings PLC and Hartreel Ltd were wound up at the High Court of Justice on 30 January 2024, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service which uncovered the fraud. The Official Receiver was appointed as liquidator of the companies.

Mark George, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

Satchi Holdings PLC took money from members of the public who invested in good faith, believing that their money was properly protected.

Both companies showed utter disregard for their financial accountability and blatantly misled investors, many of whom handed over life savings or pensions.

Removing these rogue companies will protect the public from further harm.

Satchi Holdings PLC, registered in Mayfair, London, was run by brother and sister Michael Haston and Jennifer McQueen. Hartreel Ltd, registered in Bridgend, Wales, was  run by Michael Haston.

From June 2019 Satchi Holdings raised money by issuing asset-based fixed rate loan notes that offered up to 9% interest and were due to pay out in June 2024.

The loan notes were not approved under S21 Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 so should only have been offered to high net-worth individuals or sophisticated investors.

Investors were told that their investments were secure due to Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) protection. They were also told that Satchi Holdings was backed with assets of £34 million.

In November 2021, Hartreel Ltd bought Satchi Holdings PLC’s assets and in December 2021 they informed investors that the company would be repaying all investors early. However the last interest payments investors received were between April 2020 and January 2022.

An investigation by the Insolvency Service, which can investigate complaints about corporate abuse by live companies, discovered that Satchi Holdings had lent money to four companies associated with Haston, and therefore the transactions were not conducted at arm’s length due to either his directorship or his involvement in both loaning and receiving the funds.

Only £200,000 was loaned legitimately, and that money is unrecoverable as Satchi Holdings failed to fully honour the contract .

Investigators found that many of the business’ investors were neither high net-worth nor sophisticated investors. They also discovered that investments were not backed by FSCS protection and there was no evidence that any security had been given for the money that was loaned.

The pair had also failed to appoint a company secretary for Satchi Holdings, and failed to deliver up business records – both breaches of company law.

Due to Haston and McQueen’s failure to cooperate, investigators were unable to identify the total amount that members of the public had invested, and could find no evidence of the £34 million assets that investors were told Satchi Holdings owned.

Haston is subject to a 10-year ban from running a business, from August 2023, following previous misconduct while running another business, Leonreed Ltd.

All enquiries concerning the affairs of Satchi Holdings PLC and Hartreel Ltd should be made to the Official Receiver of the Public Interest Unit PIU.OR@insolvency.gov.uk . Enquiries should quote the company name and the relevant LQD reference in any communication: LQD7029135 - SATCHI HOLDINGS PLC or LQD7029141 - HARTREEL LIMITED.

Further Information:

Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/insolvency-service

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/two-companies-shut-down-after-3million-fraud-against-investors

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