"I have read the statement of facts on the Website and it sounds to me like a very accurate and factual account of what went on.
"My own involvement was prior to the more criminal aspects of mis-selling which occurred after. Having said that, the behaviour mentioned has very similar undertones: the claim that there was a substantial property portfolio which would secure loans and guarantee rents (the CBS model was to provide guaranteed rents on properties renovated on our behalf). I was given Declarations of Trust on two properties and promissory notes prior to the involvement of subsequent investors. So, although they were saying they had this large portfolio of property, some properties already had charges on them, not to mention of course the main interest of the mortgage companies!
"There was always some big investor lurking in the wings, though no-one ever materialised ( I seem to remember in the early days, a Mr Brown wanted to buy 50 properties per month!) I would receive occasional payments, normally just before a call to solicit further investment. These payments would come from various sources, either via funds sent in by a new investor or deposits given to them by unsuspecting tenants (who would probably never see their deposits back) or rents received from their properties.
"As part of the deal in the early days, they would source, renovate, let and manage a property for you—a sort of armchair investment. Included within this service was the payment of all utilities, council tax (student exemptions should have been claimed) including internet fees and insurance of the property. What actually happened is that the utilities were generally not paid, with the names on the bills being D. Bone at the tenanted property address. When I took over management of my properties, I had to sort out a mass of debt, including unpaid council tax. Even more worrying was that the properties were not insured: the insurance company they used had not been paid, and so if the properties had burned down, we would not have been covered. Of course they didn’t tell us about any of this.
"I remember that once it had become clearly apparent that the guaranteed rents could not be honoured and we had accepted this, they continued to offer such a guarantee to future potential investors in their package.When I asked Collins why he was still offering guaranteed rents, he said he had to to make the offer look attractive. Similarly, I asked him why he offered 15% interest on funds awaiting the renovation service and he said he could make more than 15% with the money.
"I also remember, when asking David Bone in the early days about security of funds, he always referred to the portfolio of properties which would be sold, if required, to settle money owed. In fact at one stage I was to have one of their properties transferred into my name, to make up the money owed to me. A lot of time was spent in involving solicitors, mortgage brokers, valuers to set this up, only for it never to materialise. In fact it was simply a stalling tactic to gain more time and keep me off their back.
"There were many occasions where David Bone and I would agree on a plan of repayment, only for that plan to be totally ignored.
"Once I had decided to take charge of my properties, I came to collect the keys and files, etc. Also rents were being collected on my behalf and I was informed by the staff in the office that there was cash in the safe that had accrued from my properties. When they went to collect it, they discovered that it had been taken by David Bone to pay some other bill. It was not his to take: it was mine! I must add for the sake of balance, that during the time they were collecting rents on my behalf, they didn’t deduct any fee, although this could have been because they owed me so much money or through simple incompetence. However you look at it, there was no accounting for income and expenses. When I came to take over my properties, I was encouraged to allow Patrick Properties (operated by Collins’s brother) to take on the lettings. I decided not to—thank Goodness!—although he contacted me on occasion claiming he had ready tenants for my properties. At one stage he was quite abusive when I told him I didn’t require his services.
"Although I believe that any potential criminal intent was somewhat milder during the CBS days, it was evidently following a pattern which they used to much greater effect later on. Their crime is obtaining money by fraudulent means.
"I feel those investors who supported CoBo before the bankruptcy with the impression it would give them more hope of seeing their money back may now realise they have nothing to lose by telling the truth about what exactly happened to them in their relationship with Collins and Bone."
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