High Court winds up fraudulent gold mining scheme


Five companies that collectively banked more than £330,000 from a fraudulent gold mining investment scheme in South America have been wound up by the High Court.

An Insolvency Service investigation discovered that the five companies – called Santo Montana, Lorem Ipsum Trade Services, Cedar Trade Services, McKinley & Grant, and Evolution Trade Services – were connected by Harvey Bennett, who ultimately benefited from the scheme.

Lorem Ipsum, Cedar, McKinley and Evolution sold partnership rights in Santo Montana, which was said to hold rights to gold mining concessions in Peru.

Prospective investors were offered initial dividends of 20 per cent to 50 per cent of their investments and further dividends every six months for a period of six years. These returns were never paid.

Investors were also told they could expect to receive “on a conservative basis” returns of between 206 per cent and 457 per cent over their six-year investment term.

The Insolvency Service investigation found that a joint venture partner in Peru, called Montana de Oro, could not be traced and, after not cooperating with the investigation, Santo Montana abandoned its registered office and all of its members resigned.

The investigation revealed that none of the investors’ funds were used in the gold mine investments and that the main beneficiaries of the scheme were the sales companies and Bennett.

The sales companies were either abandoned or stopped trading in late 2015 apart from Evolution which agreed to take over Santo Montana’s administration services from January 2016. However, the only contact details made available to Santo Montana investors was a website that did not work.

The petitions to wind down the companies were presented in the High Court on 4 July and they were officially wound up by the court on 17 August.