Andrew John Camilleri, a businessman formerly associated with wound-up property company Fresh Start Living, has been unanimously convicted by a jury at Manchester Crown Court of making false representations in an Individual Voluntary Arrangement proposal.
The private prosecution was brought by Edmonds Marshall McMahon on behalf of Alan Blinkhorn, one of Camilleri’s many creditors. The court hearing completed on Wednesday 31 January.
An IVA is an alternative to bankruptcy and requires the debtor to truthfully reveal their assets to creditors, in order to agree a repayment of part or all of the money owed. The prosecution said that in February and March 2011, Camilleri made false representations in an IVA proposal, which was then presented to creditors as part of his attempt to wipe out debts of £9m.
Camilleri’s debts stemmed from unpaid loans from 2007 and 2008, where various creditors lent him money to finance property acquisitions, on a short-term bridging loan basis. Camilleri offered creditors security against the properties he was buying, and when it came to repaying the money with interest, he instead persuaded investors to put in more funds.
After Camilleri revealed to investors that there was no security against properties for their loans, his creditors pursued bankruptcy proceedings, which Camilleri attempted to avoid in 2011 through the IVA proposal. The IVA set out a list of his total assets and debts, in which he said that he had no assets of any value, and a debt which totaled £5.7m.
The court heard that Camilleri had not declared all of his debts, which in fact were closer to £9m. In addition, he said he owned 100% of the shares in property company Fresh Start Living, which at the time of Camilleri’s IVA statement had £1.2m in its bank account, and assets including several premium cars; a Maserati Quattroporte, an Aston Martin DB9, an Aston Martin V8, an Audi S8, and a number of Mercedes vehicles and vans.
A report from Edmonds Marshall McMahon states that Camilleri left the country for Switzerland the day before the jury returned its verdict. On Wednesday 31 January 2018, Judge Field QC sentenced Camilleri in his absence to a custodial sentence of 12 months, suspended for 12 months, and a £10,000 fine.
Camilleri resigned as a director of Fresh Start Living in January 2011 but remained a consultant. Charles Cunningham then became chief executive of Fresh Start. The company was sued by customers who invested in properties but did not see rental returns, and was accused of marketing and taken money for projects it did not own or have planning permission for. Fresh Start was wound up in December 2013.
Cunningham is currently being held liable for £15m of funds from overseas investors who put money into schemes including Empress Mill in Manchester, East Lane House in Runcorn, and several projects in Bradford. In November, the High Court froze Cunningham’s assets; two other people were named in the freezing injunction, one of which was Andrew Camilleri. Cunningham has denied all claims and allegations.