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Investors and FCA sue Park First over collapse of carpark scheme

The failed investment scheme is being sued by its investors over potential fraud after its collapse.

Investors are claiming they were told that the carpark investment scheme was “low risk” when they were convinced to invest. Their returns never came and Park First failed to deliver on many of its promises.

Many of the largely elderly investors used funds from their self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs), some of whom have also been affected by the collapse of London Capital & Finance.

Who were Park First?

Park First was an investment scheme that looked to make profit for investors from car parking spaces at major UK international airports.

Investors would be persuaded to buy leases on parking spaces after they were told by Park First they would receive high returns from the parking fees by the airports’ customers.

They had locations in Gatwick, Luton and Glasgow airports, whilst also acquiring ten airport brands including Direct Parking, Help Me Park, and Skyport.

The investments in the car parking schemes were originally sold to individuals in the UK and internationally, both directly and through SIPPs.

What happened with the Park First Investment Scheme?

Park First collapsed in July 2019 after they failed to produce the funds to pay all of the investors who opted for the buyback clause offered to them. This option let investors sell back their investment following a specified number of years.

Four companies linked to Park First were placed into administration on July 4th 2019. The companies were not FCA authorised, and therefore were not permitted to run such schemes. These four companies were:

  • Park First Freeholds Limited
  • Help Me Park Gatwick Limited
  • Park First Glasgow Rentals Limited
  • Park First Gatwick Rentals Limited

All of the payments to those who invested into the car parking scheme were frozen after the firm collapsed.

Investors now suing Park First for £6 million

Now, angry investors are suing Park First, its founder Toby Whittaker, and other executives linked to the firm. They are claiming fraudulent misrepresentation and are set to seek £6 million in compensation.

The group action is claiming that Park First dramatically overvalued the carpark leases. Park First valued Glasgow spaces at £25,000 and Gatwick spaces at £37,500.

The group is also focusing on the sub-lease aspect to Park First’s offering. The firm would sub-lease the carpark plots back from the investors, offering a “guaranteed return of 8%”. Park First then said these projected returns would rise to 10% over years three and four, and then finally 12% in the following years.

The claim states that the sub-leases only lasted two years. After this, Park Firm broke them and failed to provide subsequent services, leaving the plots impossible to sell.

The group action is ongoing.

FCA suing Park First

The day after a group action was brought by investors against Park First, the FCA launched its own legal action against the firm’s bosses. The FCA has launched a separate action alleging the scheme made “false and misleading statements” in its promises to potential investors.

The FCA is claiming that Park First was an illegal “collective investment scheme”. Products where a group of investors put money into a pool can only be carried out by FCA regulated firms, something which Park First was not.

The FCA, in the court action, is demanding Park First pay a “just sum” so it can redistribute money to its victims.

In a statement, the FCA said:

The FCA is concerned that unless proceedings are brought, it will not be possible to ensure that the defendants take all the steps that they should to reduce investors’ losses.

The FCA is fearful for the £230 million raised by Park First from thousands of savers.

Like the group action, this is an ongoing case.

Investors also pushing back at proposal to “wipe off £115 million of debt”

Amidst this complicated, complex legal battleground, there is secondary fight taking place in relation to Park First’s administrators, Smith & Williamson.

Experts have stated that Smith & Williamson’s proposals for administration amount to writing off the £115.4m of debt owed by Park First Group to the four linked companies currently in administration. This £115.4m could potentially help investors who have lost huge sums of money.

The administrator’s report suggests that the £115.4m has no recoverable value. However, there has been no explanation why the £115.4m was transferred from the four companies into Park First Group and no real clarification why the debt should be written off.

Website, Bond Review, asked Smith & Williamson for a comment as to whether this was accurate but has had no response so far.

How can Claim Experts help?

Claim Experts believe that investors should have never been advised to invest into Park First Limited in the first place. These investments were unregulated and high risk. For the most part, these investments were completely unsuitable and only appropriate for high net worth individuals and/or sophisticated investors.

If you have invested into a scheme like this, and were promised guaranteed or high-returns but those returns have never come, you may be entitled to compensation. Mis-selling through SIPPs is increasing, and we are seeing stories like Park First every single day.

Every investment comes with risk, but if you have lost money on a mis-sold investment, we could help you get some of that money back. If your claim is upheld, you’ll be entitled to compensation.

Our legal team come from a financial services and compliance background. We have experience of bringing successful claims against pensions and investment providers. We are regulated and authorised by the Solicitors Regulation.

At ClaimExperts.co.uk we make claiming for compensation easy:

  • No Win, No Fee*
  • No Upfront Payments
  • An Expert Team
  • Regulated and Authorised by The Solicitors Regulation Authority

If you would like to speak to one of our UK mis-sold investment solicitors, you can do by calling 0800 0155 687, or by completing our enquiry form.

For more information visit the FCA’s Park First page here – https://www.fca.org.uk/news/news-stories/park-first-limited-information-investors

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