Dolphin Trust is now called The German Property Group. Former founder and director Charles Smethurst has left. Hundreds – possibly thousands – of investors (lenders) are now hung out to dry. Dolphin isn’t answering the phone as people are desperate to find out if and when they will get their money back.
Dolphin has a glossy appearance on the internet but exhibits highly questionable business ethics. Dolphin has become more like a ghostly sea creature than a cute and friendly version of Flipper. So what is it with Dolphin? Why won’t they even talk to their victims who parted with their life savings in return for worthless, unsecured loan notes?
The company Dolphin Capital 80 projekt GMBH has a strange business etiquette:
No response to their clients until law suits are filed.
No follow through with the development of properties purchased.
Lying about some of the properties supposedly purchased.
Taking life savings from people and placing them in highly speculative investments.
20 year old as the managing director. Can someone so young really have what it takes to deal with funds of almost 400 million euro?
Kontrovers, the documentary.
A recent German documentary, “Kontrovers” exposed the damning results of a probing investigation into the Dolphin Group. The film details the use of Dolphin’s investors’ (lenders’) money to buy old listed buildings with the promise that these buildings will be restored and converted into flats. An appealing idea, in principle. It would, of course, be great to stop the decay of part of Germany’s heritage. But at what cost and to whom?
The documentary has raised some very interesting points, for us at Pension Life.
People do fall for these crazy “investment” schemes promising high returns. “Introducers” and “advisers” get paid huge commissions to scam victims into putting their hard-earned savings at risk.
It really is tragic how easily people get hooked into scams such as Dolphin. People tell us all the time that they would never be so stupid as to fall for something so obviously too good to be true. But still it happens all the time – and the victims are not stupid at all. This documentary demonstrates this clearly as victims report: “I trusted them. I took them into my house and trusted them”.
The success of scams such as Dolphin has a lot to do with how convincing the “introducers” are. With eye-watering commissions of up to 25% you can understand how hard the introducers work to hone their skills on how to win friends and influence people.
The ambiguity (smoke and mirrors) surrounding Dolphin and what they are actually doing with people’s investment is nothing short of shocking.
- Dolphin buy derelict buildings with victims’ pension funds without their knowledge
- Buildings are left to rot. Some plans may have been drawn up to show to potential buyers, but no development progress is ever made. The buildings deteriorate – decreasing the value of the investments/loan notes.
- Investors/lenders are told their money is invested in particular buildings without Dolphin ever owning them at all. There is even doubt as to whether one building, an ex-military base, was ever for sale.
- Restoration of ancient, delapidated buildings is a black hole for money and time – the depth of which is impossible to predict. That’s what makes these investments extremely speculative to the point of almost becoming “philanthropic donations”.
Illusions facilitated by a conglomerate
Dolphin seems to be a complex network of inter-connected companies. This seems like the very purposeful establishment of smoke and mirrors to funnel money in various directions. This is clearly stated at the start of the documentary when a contributor states that investors are given loan notes which he claims are a “fantasy product” and “highly speculative”.
Dolphins Trust Audited Accounts
Have the audited accounts of Dolphin Trust ever turned up? That is another point worth mentioning in relation to this Dolphin scam. What are they hiding? And why would any self-respecting adviser ever recommend an investment with no audited accounts?
The money that Dolphin Trust borrowed (unsecured) from hundreds of pension and investment scam victims could well be lost altogether – and it may even turn out to have been nothing more than a Ponzi scheme.
So we see that the multi dimensional labyrinth that Dolphin has created is a very dangerous place for people to invest (or lend) their money. It now appears to be a scam of enormous proportions and one that victims fell for easily and quickly. It did indeed have all the glossy and magnetic appeal of something that could have been amazing. With the Trafalgar Multi Asset Fund scam mostly invested in Dolphin (and now in the process of being wound up and investigated by the Serious Fraud Office) it not hard to see how likely it is that Dolphin will now collapse. And take thousands of distressed victims’ funds with it.
On 29th May 2019, Dolphin Trust – aka German Property Group – sent out the below email to its “introducers”. These are the flotsam of the financial services world – unregulated, unqualified “chiringuitos” who prey on the unwary in order to flog them risky, illiquid crap like Dolphin – in return for fat commissions. Examples of these spivs include Smart Invest, The Landlord’s Pension, Fortcall Financial, Smart Invest, Best Property Investment, Highground Property Investment, and SLR Wealth (from whom you can also buy a bit of The Resort Group collapsible flats in Cape Verde if you are feeling especially adventurous). But we must not forget Shenton International which is Dolphin’s Singapore “partner” which has also launched a series of mini bonds linked to Dolphin.
EMAIL FROM DOLPHIN TO THE “INTRODUCERS” DATED 29TH MAY 2019: Due to the recent coverage relating to Dolphin Trust (German Property Group) I wanted to issue a statement.
Firstly, let me say that I am very concerned at the allegations and we obviously take any adverse commentary very seriously. We are in communication with our lawyers regarding any further response that may be provided to the BBC, following our original letter that was sent to them prior to the recent coverage.
We consider that the inclusion of many of the criticisms are unfair and that the characterisation of the issues and version of events detailed are both inaccurate and misleading.
Whilst we continue to work to resolve any issues currently affecting a limited number of investors, there are some points which I would like to address in this communication.
Our recent change of name from Dolphin Trust to German Property Group is not intended to confuse our investors or stakeholders, or to avoid liabilities or any other obligations. We continue to make clear that GPG was formerly known as Dolphin Trust and all obligations under loan agreements remain unchanged.
It is important to note that Dolphin Trust have paid hundreds of millions of pounds/euros to satisfied investors. Implying that all customers have been misled and that nobody has received their contractual returns is simply false.
Reference has been made specifically to a list of projects currently owned. I would like to point out that this was not created by Dolphin and is now 3 years old.
Regarding the progress of development properties, naturally we work hard to move projects forward as expeditiously as possible. However, construction and property developments can be vulnerable to delays caused by various localised factors and the average completion time for a construction redevelopment project in Germany has steadily lengthened over recent years.
The company is currently involved in real estate investments of 60 properties.
We are always concerned to hear of any investors or stakeholders with concerns or worries regarding our products. Most of our customers are happy with our offering and performance, and we take any complaints very seriously.
We also take the security of our investors very seriously. Customer funds are secured on property assets in one of the most stable and conservative real estate markets in the world.
In cases where there have been difficulties realising capital by the date scheduled or where payment is delayed, this is clearly a matter of significant regret. Whilst we do everything in our power to avoid such problems, issues can arise in development projects and this can cause delays. We are entirely transparent in acknowleding that the risk of delay in payment exists, and this is reflected in our products.
We are committed to addressing all and any concerns raised by our customers, whether they are made directly to us or through the media.
If any investors have concerns they need to address, please direct these questions to the customer liaison team on 0191 500 5459 or at firstname.lastname@example.org