Imperial 'recovery' firm flops

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The Independent Online

A company exposed by The Independent on Sunday for an extremely risky "asset recovery" scheme - aimed at victims of the Imperial Consolidated fiasco - has gone into liquidation.

A company exposed by The Independent on Sunday for an extremely risky "asset recovery" scheme - aimed at victims of the Imperial Consolidated fiasco - has gone into liquidation.

Matrix International (Management), which traded as Matrix Investigations, was closely linked to Lincoln Fraser and Jared Brook - the former bosses of the collapsed Imperial Consolidated Group.

Matrix had been accused of meddling in efforts to recoup some of the funds for Imperial Consolidated investors.

Investors had been solicited by Matrix Investigations for advance fees to fund a bizarre asset recovery scheme, the IoS revealed last December.

It was promoting a scheme to remove the UK and offshore administrators, Mazars and PricewaterhouseCoopers, accusing them of failing to maximise payouts for creditors. Staff at Matrix refused to disclose who funded the company.

This is yet another odd episode in the saga of Imperial Consolidated, which collapsed in June 2002 after a short and fraught existence, owing investors at least £200m.

The Serious Fraud Office is now co-ordinating an inquiry into Imperial Consolidated and the role of its founders, Mr Fraser, 32, and Mr Brook, 34, who were among five people arrested, but later released without charge, in connection with the Imperial Consoli-dated fiasco.

Matrix claimed to Imperial Consolidated victims that the asset recovery scheme was being taken in conjunction with Pinsents, a blue-chip solicitor's practice, which is also a creditor from the Imperial Consolidated collapse.

A letter went out to creditors under the name of Hugh Allen, described as the managing director of Matrix Investigations.

Creditors had not been told that Matrix was established by Mr Fraser and Mr Brook after they were banned from holding directorships.

After Mazars raided the Fraser Brook partnership offices in August 2002, they claimed to the administrators that they had sold Matrix to Hugh Allen for the sum of £1. But Mr Fraser could produce no supporting paperwork.

A self-styled investigations agency, Matrix has for over a year run a campaign through its website attacking those who either blew the whistle on Imperial Consolidated's business methods or who are left trying to clear up the mess. Pinsents pulled out of the scheme before any other creditors signed up.

According to the Offshore Alert newsletter, the only people to fall for Matrix's "asset recovery" were investors in Japan, who are believed to have transferred more than £100,000 to Matrix.

Matrix held its first creditors' meeting in Cheshire on 23 March, 2004 - just 18 months after being formed in England and Wales on 17 September 2002.

The meeting was adjourned after the company objected to Mazars being appointed as co-liquidator, along with Milner Boardman & Partners, of Hale, Cheshire.

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