A GROUP of rogue property directors with links to a prominent derelict building in Rotherham have been banned for a total of 54 years.
The six, of Absolute Living Developments, were found to have misled more than 300 people to invest at least £12 million in residential properties.
The firm was linked through a lender to Avro Developments, which had plans passed in 2015 to renovate former college block the Howard Building in Rotherham town centre.
It followed the site being sold a week before its auction date in 2014, when it had a guide price of £250,000.
But little progress had been made on its conversion into 109 bedsits and flats by the time of a fire at the four-storey ex-RCAT block three years later.
Rotherham Borough Council took action to make the 1930s building secure after repeated break-ins and said the costs would be charged back to the owners.
Cllr Emma Hoddinott, the council’s cabinet member for waste, roads and community safety, said: “The actions of these supposed developers, leaving this important building in the town centre in a state of complete disrepair, have been nothing short of outrageous.
“The council has already had to act on a number of occasions to secure the building and prevent further damage which could have put the safety of the public at risk.
“I am concerned that the costs of these actions could now fall on the taxpayer if they cannot be recovered through the courts.
“Meanwhile it seems that investors interested in buying into the development have been misled.”
The investigation by the Insolvency Service centred on Absolute Living Developments, which sold apartments in northern England to mostly Asia-based investors - but people complained that the property projects had not been completed.
Absolute Living Developments was wound-up by an April 2016 court order and investigators found various examples of misconduct by directors.
Kien Cheong Yew (40), from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was disqualified for 12 years.
Ameerali Bin Abas (39), from Selangor, Malaysia; Andrea Nicole Pacquiao Pieter (30), from Selangor, Malaysia; Adrianne Mei Kwan Nyau (40), from The Wirral and Chi Yeun Leong (68), from Bangsar, Malaysia, were each banned for nine years.
Daniel Mark Harrison (38), of Kilburn, London, was disqualified for six years.
In one case, the Liverpool-based firm demanded completion payments from investors despite the development remaining unfinished.
The liquidator’s actions are ongoing and to date they have received claims from creditors in excess of £68 million.
Ken Beasley, official receiver for the Insolvency Service, said: “This was a complex investigation, considering the amount of money that was invested, not all of the directors were based in the UK and we worked with several other authorities.
“We want to draw attention to these rogue directors so we can alert people about the risks involved when investing, while also warning that we will investigate and tackle those that set out to deliberately rip people off by misrepresenting the investment opportunity on offer.”