The Serious Fraud Office announced last week that it is investigating "suspected fraud in relation to the activities of the Raedex Consortium, including the companies Buy2Let Cars, PayGo Cars, Raedex trading as Wheels4Sure and Rent2Own Cars".
One individual has been arrested and another interviewed. Two residential properties were searched.
The identity of the individual arrested, and why the SFO suspects fraud may have occurred, is yet to be revealed.
In another blow for Buy2letcars investors, the Financial Conduct Authority revealed yesterday that the whole scheme has gone into administration, less than a month after the FCA effectively stopped the scheme from taking in new investor money.
All three of Buy2letcars' constituent companies: Buy 2 Let Cars Ltd, Rent 2 Own Cars Ltd, and the holding company Raedex Consortium, went into administration on Tuesday 15 March, with RSM Restructuring Advisory appointed as the administrators.
Following last week's FCA shutdown of new investment into Buy2LetCars, Smith & Williamson has unceremoniously dumped CEO and owner Reginald Larry-Cole from an "Entrepreneur's Hall Of Fame".
Google's cache shows that on Friday 19th, the day of the FCA's intervention, the hall of fame entry was still up. But at some point after this it was quietly removed.
After over 8 years in operation, the Buy2letcars investment scheme has been closed to new investment by the FCA.
A "first supervisory notice" placed on Buy2letcars' parent company, Raedex Consortium, prohibits the company from carrying out any regulated activities other than collecting payments on vehicle leases that were already in place.
Buy2letcars solicits investment via social media and radio ads from the public, whose money is used to purchase a car to be leased out to a borrower. As the investment is unregulated, the FCA does not technically have the power to stop Buy2letcars taking in investment. However, FCA does have the power to stop Buy2letcars arranging new vehicle leases, and if Buy2letcars can't arrange new vehicle leases, it can't take in new investment as it can't do anything with it.
The Buy2Letcars group of companies, consisting of Buy 2 Let Cars Limited (which borrows money from investors promising returns of up to 11% per year), Wheels 4 Sure (which uses the money to lease cars) and Raedex Consortium Limited (parent holding company) have all filed their accounts for the year ending December 2019.
The accounts have been filed using small company exemptions and did not include profit and loss accounts, and were unaudited. They therefore contain limited information.
What little we do know includes that the overall group has continued to lose money (as it did in 2018 and 2017). Raedex Limited shows net liabilities expanding from £9.5 million in 2018 to £10.9 million in 2019, while the "retained profits" line fell from minus £14.1 million to minus £18.1 million (suggesting losses of around £4 million over the year).
Buy2LetCars has released its accounts for December 2018.
The figures for Raedex Consortium Limited, the group holding company, show limited information as the company used small company exemptions and did not release a profit and loss statement, or have the accounts audited.
The figures are however clear that the overall company remains loss-making, with the profit and loss account falling from minus £9.3m to minus £14.1m. Net assets decreased from an already negative £2.3 million to minus £9.5 million.
Buy2LetCars, which offers unregulated investment in cars paying up to 11% per annum, has filed its accounts for 2017.
There are three companies in the Buy2LetCars group: Buy 2 Let Cars Limited, Rent 2 Own Cars Limited and Raedex Limited. Raedex Limited is the holding company for the first two.
Due to its small size, the company's accounts were exempt from independent auditing, and the information that can be obtained from them is limited.
At the balance sheet date of 31 December 2017, the liabilities of the holding company exceeded its assets by £2.9 million. This was an improvement from December 2016 when net liabilities were £6.8 million. A large contribution to this improvement was £4.8 million of goodwill which was put on the books in the 2017 financial year, described as "the expected value of future profits dervied from existing contracts".
Buy 2 Let Cars Limited offers the opportunity to invest in lease cars over a term of three years as follows:
- Level 1: invest £7,000-£10,000 and receive a return of 7% per year
- Level 2: invest £14,000 to fund "one unit" and receive a return of 9% per year
- Level 3: invest to fund "two to six new units" (presumably £28,000 - £84,000) and receive a return of 10% per year
- Level 4: invest to fund "7 or more units" (£98,000 or more) and receive a return of 11% per year
Investors' funds are used to purchase a lease car which is then leased out to a borrower. The borrower's lease payments are used to generate the promised return.
If the borrower defaults on their payments, and Buy 2 Let Cars is unable to find another borrower, Buy 2 Let Cars will attempt to sell the car to return investor's capital. If the amount realised is less than the investor invested, Buy 2 Let Cars promises to make up any shortfall up to a maximum of 85% of the amount invested.
Continue reading for a review of Buy 2 Let Cars' investment.