Eleven companies involved in the conversion of a former convent in the Cotswolds into a hotel and music venue have been wound up by the High Court, after investors were scammed by a bankrupt husband and wife team out of nearly £8m.
A further two companies, which were concerned with the acquisition and development of a property in Norway, have also been dissolved following investigations by the Insolvency Service.
All 13 companies, which traded from an address in Stroud, Gloucestershire, were set up by husband and wife team Matthew and Charlotte Roberts. Matthew Roberts was made bankrupt in September 2014, followed by his wife nearly two years later.
The Roberts bought the 14-bedroom, Grade II-listed former convent (pictured) in Woodchester, near Stroud, in 2011, off a guide price of £1.7m and opened it as a hotel and restaurant with a music venue located in the adjacent chapel. Planning permission was granted to expand the mid-17th century property to 44 bedrooms.
The couple raised at least £7.8m to develop their businesses after targeting high net worth individuals. The investors were told that that their investments would be "fully asset back with the companies in which they purchased shares acquiring ownership of various land and buildings". However, none of the land or buildings were found to be owned by the companies in which the investors had invested.
Investigators at the Insolvency Service are now tracking to track down the lost funds, but have warned that "a significant amount of money may not be recoverable".
David Hill, chief investigator with the Insolvency Service, said that the companies run by the Roberts had shown "no regard" for the law.
"I am very pleased to see that the Court has called a halt to the unscrupulous activities of these companies. The Insolvency Service will continue to investigate and bring to a halt the activities of companies harming or about to harm the public by operating in this way.
Located in grounds of 12.8 acres, the convent is now up for sale for £4m following the appointment of joint receivers Damian Webb and Phillip Rodney Sykes of RSM Restructuring Advisory Convent. Savills and Colston & Colston are marketing the property jointly.
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