EcoHouse: The outlook is bleak

Andrew BattOctober 31, 2014

Best-selling U.K. news magazine Private Eye has this week published an article on Brazil social housing property developer EcoHouse, noting the U.K. office has now closed and its attempts to contact company officials have been unsuccessful.

EcoHouse was widely reported to be the most successful overseas property investment in Singapore in 2012, and is thought to have more than 700 investors in the city-state who paid $46,000 with the promise of 20 percent returns within 12 months. Its former Suntec Tower offices, which closed earlier this year, once held seminars for more than 200 people per session.

Now many British investors and sales agents are discovering what Singapore investors have feared for months; no development updates, no communication with investors and no repayments of capital, promised returns or delay penalties included as part of many contracts.

The popular magazine noted the offices in Southwest London have closed with rent owing, and company founder Anthony Armstrong-Emery “vanished” from his Richmond home three months ago.

Facebook updates from Emery have said he is in the Middle East and Asia solving financial problems. Emery was often in Singapore, addressing his investors and appearing at media events to promote his investments.

The Private Eye story also noted that EcoHouse is not regulated by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, giving no protecting to investors there through compensation schemes.

It is believed that some Singapore investors have begun a class legal action although contracts seen by PropertyGuru only allow legal recourse in a specific court in Natal, north east Brazil.
Until recently EcoHouse was still selling its investments in both Canada and China. Now it appears all company activities have ceased, apart from occasional Brazil news updates on the company’s websites.

Any concerned investors should seek immediate independent legal advice as to the best course of action to take, and read their contracts to understand what options may be available to them.

Image: Workers were given English lessons as part of their contract to work with EcoHouse in Natal, Brazil. (c) PropertyGuru.

Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru Group, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email andrew@propertyguru.com.sg

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