Liverpool property tycoon in fraud arrest

A LIVERPOOL property tycoon has been arrested on suspicion of fraud and forgery after his firm collapsed with debts of up to £3.8m.

Officers from Merseyside Police raided 51-year-old Ken Metcalf’s £1m home in Chester.

The self-proclaimed millionaire, and patron of the Prince’s Trust and Inner City Sailing Trust, was questioned at length by officers from the Criminal Enterprise Team before being released on police bail until August.

His wife, Nicola, 38, was arrested in March and bailed until the same date.

Last night, Mr Metcalf declined to comment on the situation.

A police investigation was launched into the property mogul last October after his company, Tailormade Overseas Property Solutions Ltd (TMOPS), went into liquidation.

At the time, the liquidator said 45 people and businesses had come forward having lost money amounting to £2.3m.

Staff of the company were also owed £3,000 in redundancy and pay in lieu of notice.

Six months on and this has now increased to 84 creditors claiming losses of potentially £3.8m.

The police raid of Mr Metcalf’s family home, which was bought in his wife’s maiden name in March last year, took place in February.

But last October, angry investors from around the world gathered at a creditors’ meeting in Old Hall Street after TMOPS was voluntarily wound up.

Mr Metcalf was chairman and chief executive of TMOPS, which was based in the city’s Union Court. The company sold development and real estate, including luxury apartments in Italy and Spain.

Mr Metcalf had included two of his other property companies, Tailormade Elite, run with his wife, and Tailormade Investment Villages Ltd (TMIV) in the list of creditors, claiming £1.57m.

The Financial Services Authority has since published a statement warning people against investing in Tailormade Investment Villages Ltd.

It warns that the company is not regulated to carry out activity in the UK and may be targeting UK customers.

Mr Metcalf resigned as director of TMIV and an associated company Tailormade Investment Villages Lairg at the end of February.

Oliver Stanley, who gave Mr Metcalf £400,000 for the refurbishment of 12 terraced properties in Halifax, said people would lose their homes now the money has gone.

Speaking last October, he said: “Where has the money gone? People are going to lose their homes over this.”

Accounts for TMOPS over the past three years show a loss of £7,569 at the end of 2005, a £508,767 loss in 2006 and a £1m loss in 2007.

Last year, Mr Metcalf sent a number of letters to investors.

In a letter dated September 26, he wrote that the liquidation of TMOPS would affect all of his sister companies. In a letter dated 10 days earlier, he also wrote that he was making arrangements to declare himself bankrupt – he has since made the declaration.

In another letter, dated September 12, he said: “In common with many organisations in our industry, we are suffering the consequences of the current economic climate.

“Assumptions based on many years’ experience have proved to be invalid, and I can put it no more directly than to advise you that I have no prospect of paying the sum due to you either through the conclusion of the project(s) in which you have invested or through my personal guarantee.”

He went on to write that he was relying on profit generated by other companies to generate funds to repay investors, and had already reduced operating costs by several redundancies.

He wrote that both TMOPS and Tailormade Elite (TE) had no realisable assets and that TE would cease trading immediately.

Mr Metcalf also had an associated company, 7 Best Invest Ltd, and through this was a patron of the Prince’s Trust and Inner City Sailing Trust (ICST), donating 5% of its profits to each charity.

Mr Metcalf set up ICST in April last year, as a unique scheme that gives young people from Merseyside access to Royal Yachting Association training courses.

ICST said the trust had a number of sponsors and would continue to operate as normal.

A spokeswoman said: “Merseyside Police can confirm that a 51-year-old man from Chester was arrested on suspicion of fraud and forgery in February and his home address was also searched.

“A 38-year-old woman from Chester was arrested in March. They were both bailed until August pending further enquiries. The investigation is ongoing.”