Los Pandos Vineyard
Proudly promoted as “an ambitious 10-12 year project and a blueprint for sustainable, responsible development in the future”, Martin & Clews’ Los Pandos project was advertised as much more than just a vineyard.
Located in Almansa, between Alicante and Valencia, it covered 80 hectares with 180,000 vines. The vineyard sat within an estate that extended to 830 hectares, leaving land for ecovillages, a technology park, sports and cultural hubs plus many more projects. For investors seeking to make some extra money from their pension, it looked like a dream come true.
Investors promised a good deal
Despite the investment being a high risk overseas Unregulated Collective Investment Scheme (UCIS) outwith the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), investors were assured they had nothing to worry about. Company directors Eduardo Martin and Mike Clews were hugely experienced and had engaged industry experts, including Deloitte, to consult on the project and oversee its feasibility.
To make the offer even more tempting their prospectus included testimonials from investors in their previous 2008 vineyard deal, all delighted with their “guaranteed” returns of 12.5% and even 25%. Their new “Bodega Offer” promised to be similarly lucrative, secured by a first legal charge. The more you invested, the greater your guaranteed return over three years – the minimum investment of €5,000 returned 30%, with 39% returns promised on investments over €100,000.
It was available through Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) and Small Self-Administered Schemes (SSAS) – at the discretion of the administrators – with a team of independent financial advisers (IFAs) and chartered accountants on hand to give pension and tax advice.
Too good to be true
Swept away by slick marketing, double-digit returns and seemingly low risks, investors didn’t hesitate to put their money into the Los Pandos Vineyard project. Sustainable investments like this tend to be attractive to investors looking to make good returns while helping to build a cleaner, greener future. Unfortunately, however, they also tend to be extremely unreliable.
Investors were also unaware of unregulated introducers, such as the International Property Investment Network (IPIN), being awarded exorbitant commissions for passing customers to Martin & Clews’ scheme. Potential investors identified by these introducers – many of whom were not appropriate candidates – were referred to a number of SIPP providers, including Stadia Trustees. Unfortunately, in numerous cases, there was a lack of due diligence on the part of SIPP providers regarding the suitability of a SIPP as a vehicle for unsophisticated investors, the quality of the unregulated investment in question, and the background and affiliations of the introducers.
Inevitable planning delays have meant little progress with the Los Pandos project, although as recently as 2017, Martin & Clews issued an update heralding the uplift in the value of the land and significant potential for new investment. Regretfully, there has been little good news since.
If you have invested in Los Pandos or any other UCIS through a SIPP or SSAS, and have lost money as a result, the claims specialists at Beat the Banks are here to help. To find out more you can call our team on 0800 193 1234 for a free, no-obligation consultation.