Elliot Group’s £250m Infinity in Leeds Street and the £100m Aura student project are both in administration amid an ongoing fraud investigation into founder Elliot Lawless. Tony McDonough reports
Developer Elliot Group is placing two Liverpool property schemes worth a combined £350m into administration amid an ongoing fraud and corruption investigation involving founder Elliot Lawless.
Elliot Group’s £250m Infinity residential scheme in Leeds Street, close to the waterfront, and on the £100m Aura student accommodation project on the edge of the city’s Knowledge Quarter, as well as a third scheme – The Residence – in Salford are all now in administration.
Mr Lawless was arrested on December 18, 2019, by Merseyside Police as “part of an ongoing fraud investigation”. Nick Kavanagh, director of regeneration and employment at Liverpool City Council, was arrested on the same day as part of the same investigation.
Both men were later released on conditional bail. No charges have been brought and the investigation remains live. Mr Lawless is denying the allegation and insists there is no evidence to substantiate them.
Paul Cooper and David Rubin of David Rubin & Partners based in London have been brought in to assist Elliot Group’s efforts to protect the existing investors and creditors of the three companies going into administration. Administration grants a company a period of grace whilst solutions to its problems are found.
“We’ve explored every option available, but in light of the investigation, existing investors were cautious about backing the projects to their conclusion,” said Mr Lawless. “As we enter the administration process, we’ll continue to work proactively with investors to explore how we can help them crystallise their investments and get the projects completed.
“They’re good schemes in great locations and I want to see them through. We’ve delivered 100 per cent of all our schemes in the past and I am intent on maintaining that track record.”
Mr Lawless says his focus is now on working with the administrator to keep the three projects alive. He added: “It has been a challenge for me dealing with the police investigation, but it’s nothing compared to the fact that hundreds of great workers have lost their jobs and investors’ funds are at risk.”
In late February Elliot Group announced it was in talks in an attempt to continue work on all three schemes and was in talks with possible backers.
Work was originally suspended on Infinity and Aura following Mr Elliot’s arrest in agreement with the main contractor, Vermont Property Group. Vermont said on Friday that it had hoped to restart work on the Aura scheme and was “extremely disappointed” at the administrations.
In a statement Vermont said: “We have engaged with Elliot Group and their investors directly for over a month now, in an attempt to find a solution to enable the works to recommence on the Aura scheme in Liverpool.
“We believed there was a solution that would have seen the development successfully through to practical completion, however this needed the agreement and endorsement of all parties under a revised and transparent funding structure.
“Regrettably, we were unable to able to agree terms and the necessary security provisions with Elliot Group in respect of Aura and have had no alternative but to withdraw from these discussions.
“We remain committed to assisting all parties in exploring how this project can be completed in due course.”