The founder of Liverpool-based property developer Elliot Group expects to recover “in the coming weeks” around £300,000 seized from him by Merseyside Police as part of an investigation that began last year.
At the same time, his company is continuing to work towards a deal to transfer ownership of the £250m Infinity residential scheme in Liverpool – currently in administration – to investors following a similar deal with the £300m Aura student accommodation scheme in June.
Lawless was arrested on 18 December along with Nick Kavanagh, head of regeneration at Liverpool City Council, on suspicions of fraud. Both were released on bail and no charges were brought, although a police investigation ensued.
At the time of the arrests, Merseyside Police seized around £300,000 from a property named Beetham Plaza that belongs to Lawless. The police force was permitted to keep the assets while the investigation ensued.
However, Lawless mounted a judicial review of the police search of his house, claiming that officers lacked a warrant at the time. The High Court in April ruled that the search by Merseyside Police was unlawful, and the police subsequently agreed to settle the claim while continuing its investigation.
Lawless said in a statement on Wednesday: “My legal team are currently finalising my claim and we hope to have our representations over to the police in the next few weeks.
“I am very confident that the money will be returned and in the meantime am focused on driving my business forward.”
Construction of the company’s projects in Liverpool and Manchester stalled earlier this year after the police investigation got underway, and several fell into administration, including Aura, Infinity, and the £70m The Residence apartment project in Salford.
Lawless pledged in June to “work with administrators [at David Rubin and Partners] to find best value for investors”.
Meanwhile, Liverpool City Council’s Kavanagh was re-arrested earlier this month as part of the ongoing corruption investigation, then released pending further enquiries.