BBC Exposes Fraud and Financial Collapse with Germany Property Group (Dolphin Trust)
The BBC investigation team has revealed millions of pounds of investor’s pensions have not been returned due to assurances made by German Property Group, formerly known the Dolphin Trust.
High interest returns and original capital paid back were promised by the German Property Group if the investor lent money for up to a period of five years. Devastating to many investors, the company has now collapsed owing an estimated £1bn to investors worldwide.
UK investor Caroline Palmer from Wiltshire is one of those who have not had her money. Six years the then self-employed fitness instructor was persuaded to lend Dolphin £15,000 from her pension with the promise of her money being secure.
After receiving some interest back, the rest of her money was supposed to have been returned last year but she has still not received it.
“To know that if anything went belly up that I would not have any recompense,” says Caroline. “I definitely would not have touched it with a bargepole because I’m a low-risk person. It’s a third of my pension pot and that’s all I’ve got. It’s a huge blow.
However, some investors have had their money back but like Caroline, she is not the only one waiting for her pension savings to be returned.
Mark Bennett, from Lichfield, first invested with Dolphin in 2015. By 2017 he had invested a total of £279,000 from his entire pension pot and he is still waiting to get that money back.
‘We’ve had to sell the family home and buy a much smaller property so we can release some cash until we can see our way out of this situation, says Mark. “It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing at night. At the moment, I’ve got absolutely not idea where my money has gone.”
Dolphin Trust was set up to use money to buy derelict listed buildings across Germany, to turn them into flats and then sell to German buyers. Whilst some of the investor money was used to buy various buildings, it did not develop enough of them to pay back the loans.
BBC Radio 4’s Investigation team You & Yours found evidence indicating loans were paid to director Charles Smethurst and his family with documents suggesting investor money was used to pay for fashion shows, television stations, beauty products, parties and rent. They have also discovered that some investors were paid back with other investor’s money.
Thousands of people in the UK were persuaded by separate unregulated introducers to invest in the firm. Many, like Caroline and Mark were unaware that these salespeople were earning large commissions and You & Yours discovered documents showing standard commission paid by Dolphin of 21%.
In July 2020, German Property Group began filing for bankruptcy in Germany and they are estimated to owe at least a £bn to investors worldwide and at least £378m is thought to have been invested by people in the UK.
Most investors were unaware of which building their money was secured against, and only a fraction of the money invested in the UK, Ireland, Singapore, and other countries was spent on German property.
This has made it very difficult to know that their money was secured as promised.
If you have been affected by financial advice that was associated with Dolphin Trust (German Property Group Investments) and have transferred your pension into a SIPP or SSAS or alternatively invested cash, we may be able to help so please give us a call on 01903 868251.
Information in the article was sourced from