Earlier this month, KPMG, the independent trustee of Harlequin Property, slammed Ames over how he intends to pay back stricken investors.
The company stated Harlequin had “not accounted for a significant portion of the deposits that it received from purchasers” of its off plan properties, estimated to be around £70m.
“Mr Ames was asked where that large sum of money had gone.
“He purported not to understand the question… It was not his money, and he gave the impression that he did not ultimately care about it,” said a KPMG report filed in the Caribbean Island of St Vincent and Grenadines, where Harlequin Property is headquartered.
However, Ames said in statement: “If I did not care about investors or if I had something to hide, I could have thrown in the towel years ago.”
He added that he and his team are currently working on a proposal that would see Ames hand control of Buccament Bay Resort, which has been closed since last December after Harlequin failed to pay suppliers, to 3,000 investors.
Ames maintains the move will help them save their investments in Harlequin Property (SVG) despite KPMG recommending bankruptcy as a better option for investors.
“Ever since the summer of 2010, I have fought tooth and nail to protect investors’ interests – and won important legal battles along the way – and I will continue to fight for their financial futures. I look forward to clearing my name,” added Ames.
The SFO action followed a decision by accountants Wilkins Kennedy and PwC to pass a huge amount of information they had collected on Ames to SFO, although that evidence had not helped in their own civil case against the fraudster.
Jeffrey Davidson, leading investigator and managing director of Honeycomb Forensic Accounting said: “One of the features of the civil proceedings [against Harlequin] is that Wilkins Kennedy and their insurers went to PWC to help them produce a huge amount of information and evidence pointing to Ames as a fraudster.
“Although this did not help them in the civil case the PWC papers were then passed on to the SFO and I suspect it is this impetus which has finally let the SFO to charge Ames after an investigation which started four years ago,” he said.