LONDON – The British-born, St Vincent and the Grenadines naturalised citizen, Dave Ames, has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for running what a judge described as a “gigantic Ponzi scheme” in the Caribbean.
Ames, the former chairman of Harlequin, the company that owned the former Buccament Bay Resort in St Vincent and the Grenadines, is also wanted in the Caribbean island on tax evasion and theft charges.
The unfinished Harlequin boutique hotel at Hastings, Christ Church, was demolished in June 2021, after being sold to a nominee of Preconco Limited the previous month.
He was sentenced in the British court to nine years for one count of fraud by abuse of position and three years for another count. The sentences will run consecutively.
Last month, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the United Kingdom successfully prosecuted Ames, who was behind the fraud involving celebrity-endorsed luxury resorts in the Caribbean, including Buccament Bay Resort.
In handing down his sentence on Friday, Justice Christopher Hehir described Ames as a “slick salesman and thoroughly dishonest with it”
He said that Harlequin sales material was “full of ambiguous, evidently false and misleading claims in his name.
“The prosecution was careful not to use the word before the jury but the plain truth is that from January 2010 the operation was a gigantic Ponzi scheme and could only be keep going by attracting new investors and you knew they would almost inevitably lose everything.
“The jury heard evidence you told a lie in person to an investor that the money they paid you was ring fenced and this was entirely untrue as you acknowledged when you were interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office when you said the business model would not work if it was ring fenced.”
The judge said that Ames had no relevant experience entering the property business, noting “you had sold garden furniture and double glazing and been in the loan business, but were twice declared bankrupt, a fact you did not readily declare to those whose money you were after.
“You said you were a visionary and an entrepreneur, but you were not, you were a slick and plausible salesman and thoroughly dishonest with it … You are a menace to anybody unfortunate enough to do business with you.” (CMC)