West One Loans being sued for loss of £235,000 investment



Investor Nick Clarke is suing West One Loans for not returning his investment of £235,000 made on a bridging loan according to Mortgage Finance Gazette.

Clarke has appointed law firm Mishcon de Reya to pursue his claim that West One Loans subsequently acted in breach of this contract by failing to obtain security on this loan – a term clearly stipulated in the contract.

This case, pending a High Court hearing on 6 July, serves as a warning to current and future investors in bridging loan finance, as well as advisers responsible for recommending such investments.

Clarke is the founder of Salkeld Investments Limited and is an experienced entrepreneur with investments across property, internet, biotechnology and natural resources sectors. He was introduced to an investment opportunity with West One Loans by his accountant.

In April 2011, West One Loans offered Clarke the opportunity to participate in a secured loan which it was intending to advance to an individual claiming to be Massimo Barbini.

West One advanced £570,000 to Barbini, partly funded by £235,000 from Clarke. As security in respect of the loan, West One Loans would obtain a registered charge over the property in Fulham, London and had an open market valuation of £950,000.

The term of the loan was to be seven months and throughout this period, West One Loans would pay Clarke a net interest rate of 1 per cent per month on the sum that he had invested. West One would repay Clarke’s investment of £235,000 on or around 19 November 2011.

Clarke and West One Loans entered into a Trust Deed relating to the loan which stated that West One Loans had previously agreed that the loan would be secured by way of a registered charge over the Fulham property.

The contract contained the term that West One Loans would obtain valid security in respect of the loan, specifically in the form of a registered charge over the property.

It also stated that West One would not advance any part of the loan to the borrower before it had obtained valid security over the property and that, in the event that the borrower did not repay the loan, it would enforce the security over the property on behalf of Clarke (and any other investors involved in the loan).

West One Loans advanced the full amount of the loan to an individual who was not Barbini and who did not own, or have any interest in, the property and without having obtained any valid security over the property. When West One Loans tried to register a charge over the property it was refused by HM Land Registry on this basis.

Mishcon de Reya, on behalf of Nick Clarke, has applied for a summary judgment on the basis that West One Loans has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim and there is no compelling reason why it should await trial.

Mark Abrahams, CEO of West One Loans, said: “Sadly, we cannot comment on this investor matter as it’s subject to on-going legal proceedings. Having said that, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the robust, best practice measures West One Loans has in place to combat fraud.”