Hunt for “vanished” consultant continues

WITH TOTAL missing investor funds now standing at well over two million euros, more and more investors have been coming forward.

Following last week’s front page exclusive, ‘Financial consultant “vanishes with one million”’, The Resident can now confirm that in nearly every case the story is the same. Investors placed their trust and, in many cases, their entire life savings in Claremont Consultants Ltd, only to find that regular interest payments, due to have been made in the first quarter of this year, had not been made.They tried to contact Claremont director, Mark Hodgson, by telephone and, after several times trying without success, travelled to the Algarve to discover, to their horror, that the Claremont office in Albufeira had been completely shut down and Hodgson “vanished”. A reliable source informed The Resident that large amounts of cash were transferred out of the Claremont Consultants Ltd account at a well known bank in Albufeira, just a few weeks earlier.

All efforts to find Mark Hodgson (33), his wife Zena Jane Hodgson Gilchrist (34), said to be originally from New Milford in England but resident in the Algarve for about the last eight years, have been unsuccessful. A total of 20 investors have now come forward, almost all of them English, to lodge complaints with the Faro Polícia Judiciária, who have reportedly informed them that, if Mr. Hodgson is found in Portugal, he will be arrested.

Meanwhile, applications are underway in the Portuguese courts for the issue of an international arrest warrant for Mark Hodgson, which investors expect imminently.

Mr Jacob Dijkstra, a relative of two of the investors affected and who has travelled from his Florida home to the Algarve to help lead the investigation, informed The Resident that investors were continuing to come forward. He revealed to The Resident that Hodgson’s Algarve home is now up for sale and that, recently, Hodgson allegedly tried to cash in a UK insurance policy.

Mr Dijkstra is liaising, on behalf of Claremont investors, with a firm of English solicitors specialising in financial matters, to see what can be done in the immediate future. While everyone is hoping that there will be a simple and innocent explanation for Mr Hodgson’s mysterious disappearance along with the Claremont funds, as time goes by, the chances are looking extremely slim and speculation is now rife about what may have really been going on at Claremont: “Are we dealing with an Algarve version (small scale by comparison) of the notorious Nick Leeson situation?” or “Was it a pyramid scheme all along?” Only time will tell if these fears are founded.

What is apparent is that Claremont were trading without registration with Portuguese watchdog authority and financial regulator, the Comissão do Mercado de Valores Mobiliários, nor any other financial intermediary’s regulatory authority as is required by law.

In the meantime, investors are still urgently appealing for anyone who believes they may be affected by the present Claremont Consultants Ltd situation or has any information as to the whereabouts of Mr Hodgson or his wife Zena, to contact Faro Polícia Judiciária or email Jacob Dijkstra on [email protected]

Jon Rivelon Wilson