Insolvency Service brings landbankers to court

CLS & Partners and Sterling Mortimar, two landbanking companies in Warrington and Southport, have been put into provisional liquidation by the High Court on public interest grounds, following an investigation by Company Investigations.

The two companies, which are connected, operated a landbanking business selling small plots of land located in Ossett, Wakefield to investors. Landbanking is a practice whereby agricultural land, often situated in the green belt, is bought at nominal value, then divided into smaller plots and sold on to investors for a substantial mark-up based on claims that large returns will be received when planning permission is granted.

The petitions to wind up both companies were presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. The court appointed the Official Receiver to act as provisional liquidator of the companies. The role of the Official Receiver is to protect the assets and financial records of the companies pending determination of the petitions.

The provisional liquidator also has the power to investigate the affairs of the companies insofar as it is necessary to protect their assets including any third party or trust monies or assets in the possession of or under the control of the companies.

The case is now subject to High Court action and no further information will be made available until the petitions are heard in the High Court on 9 May 2012.

CLS & Partners was incorporated on 18 February 2010. Its registered office is at 4 Webster Court, Warrington WA5 8WD.

Sterling Mortimar was incorporated on 22 September 2009. Its registered office is at 11 Hesketh Park Mansions, Queens Road, Southport PR9 9JE.

The petitions were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 21 March 2012.

The Official Receiver was appointed as provisional liquidator of the companies on 29 March 2012.

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, carries out confidential enquiries on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills.

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