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Convicted fraudster offered job in St Vincent, court told
Published on March 27, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England -- At a sentencing hearing at Isleworth Crown Court in London last Friday, the court was told that convicted fraudster Matthew Ames had been offered a £10,000 (US$16,500)-a-month job managing his father David Ames’s Buccament Bay resort in St Vincent if he avoided prison with a suspended sentence.

Matthew Ames. Photo: Echo News
However, Ames, 38, was jailed for 40 months after being found guilty of two counts of fraudulent trading relating to fake green projects, cheating investors out of £1.6 million (US$2.6 million).

The jury heard that Ames used a Ponzi scheme to cover up the fraud by repaying first investors with new investors’ money. He was finally caught out following an undercover sting by a local newspaper in August 2010.

Ames is the son of David Ames, 62, the owner of Caribbean property developer Harlequin, which owns the Buccament Bay resort in St Vincent, where Matthew Ames had apparently been offered a job.

Harlequin is also under investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US Justice Department after taking more than £300 million (US$453 million) in deposits from at least 6,000 investors for luxury vacation accommodation across the Caribbean since 2006. However, it has so far built just 300 of the thousands of properties promised.

The UK sales arm of Harlequin was placed into administration in April of last year after a number of investors requested their money back.

David Ames of Harlequin Property
Also last year, Harlequin halted work on two multi-million dollar resorts in Barbados, owing employees two months’ salary, the Barbados National Insurance Scheme (NIS) about $80 000 (US$40,000) and several local businesses and contractors in excess of $3 million.

The company was also in the news when its owner David Ames was accused of bribing the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) in order to gain citizenship.

Ames has rejected the accusations that he had offered Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves a “suitcase of money” in return for citizenship in SVG, where Harlequin is developing the Buccament Bay resort.

It is not clear if Matthew Ames would have required a work permit to take up the employment reportedly offered at Buccament Bay in St Vincent or, if so, whether his fraud conviction would have automatically disqualified him from obtaining such a permit.
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Peter Binose:

None of his father's [Dave Ames] past bankruptcies stopped his father getting the Buccament deal, and later from being granted Vincentian citizenship. As the prime minister is against issuing citizenships and thereafter passports to such people, many asked what basis he got citizenship with his slightly blighted past.

I believe you will find that this convicted young man already has a Vincentian passport, as does his mother and a whole bunch of other people who were involved with Buccament.

Peter Binose:

It's what was known as the Buccament passport stampede.

Everyone personally approved and branded by the Prime Minister, the head honcho, the owner of the ranch.

Are you all aware that Saint Vincent is smaller than most ranches in Texas?

Are you all aware that his father was willing to pay this son £10,000 a month which is EC$41,000 a month. Yet they won't or can't pay suppliers and some contractors.


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The Caribbean Writer 2014

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