WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18: An investor who lost thousands when David and Antoinette Bolden’s Emerald empire collapsed has described how he was left feeling “financially paralysed” by the experience. Glenn Jones said he had chosen to speak out to encourage other investors who lost money to tell their stories and reveal the true ‘human cost’ behind the dissolution of the company.
Mr Jones invested “ a significant amount” of money in Emerald Financial Group International Realty (EFGIR), in 2008. EFGIR was run by Emerald International Management Limited — a firm owned by the Boldens.
Mr Jones, Director of Business Development for MediaHouse, parent company of the Bermuda Sun, said: “My cousin was working there and told me about the Costa Rican real estate investment. I did a little research of my own and was satisfied it was a sound investment. I returned to Bermuda in 2006 and was looking for some place to put my money where hopefully it would grow. In the end though, it disappeared completely.
“My cousin left the company before the bottom fell out so I was totally blindsided.”
Winding up proceedings began against four entities owned by the Emerald group of companies — Emerald Capital Investment Ltd. (ECI), Directrade Ltd., Emerald Financial Ltd. and Emerald Investment Management Ltd — in 2009. Two years later, Mr and Mrs Bolden stood trial accused of theft and money laundering in respect of their Emerald dealings, but were cleared of all counts. The couple was, however, found guilty of misleading the Bermuda Monetary Authority, given a suspended sentenced and ordered to perform community service.
Mr Jones said: “Naturally, I was furious when I first learned of this a few years back. And having followed the events since then I’m still angry. [And] ... to date, no one has truly paid a price for it.”
He said the public needs to know that people were left “unfairly victimized... I imagine some victims are too afraid or too embarrassed to speak publicly, but I hope by speaking up I can inspire others to tell their stories.
“If people tell the truth about how they were hurt, without malice or exaggeration, it would provide the public with the knowledge of what happened to everyday people under the Boldens’ watch.”
Mr Jones said he and other EFGIR investors who lost money had never even received an apology from the Boldens.
He added: “My scars from that experience have made me so skittish about future investing. That’s just about the worst thing that could have happened to someone of my age. As many people in investments have told me, investing aggressively now, at my age, has the potential to pay huge dividends later. But the Emerald experience has made me so afraid I feel financially paralysed.
“In my case, the painful damage wasn’t only inflicted once, but is also a threat to my future. That’s what makes me angriest. I am fully aware that investing comes with risks, but no investor should have to face the complete meltdown that happened at Emerald.”
KPMG, agent for the Official Receiver, said that those who had invested in Emerald Financial Limited had received most of their money back. But they also confirmed that investors who put money into EFGIR were unlikely to receive any of their funds back. Emerald International Management Limited was the General Partner of EFG International Realty LP1 (EFGIR), a Bermuda limited partnership
A statement released on behalf of Charles Thresh said: “The records of EFGIR obtained by KPMG Advisory following the Official Receiver’s appointment were not complete and KPMG Advisory have undertaken an investigation of the affairs of EFGIR, including tracing limited partner investors.
“Since our appointment, we have identified only one tangible asset of EFGIR, a condominium in the Pacifico development in Costa Rica.
“An option on another property was purchased in the Sonesta development, however, the option lapsed. Unfortunately, it is expected that a distribution, if any, to EFGIR investors will represent a very small fraction of amounts invested.”
Mr Thresh added: “The OR is empowered under various Orders of the Supreme Court of Bermuda to administer the estates of the various Emerald companies over which he is appointed and he does not need to go back to Court unless there are matters for the Court to consider. There are no such matters pending and there is therefore no further hearing scheduled at the present time. Where appropriate, the OR is moving towards closure of the liquidations where asset realizations and distributions to creditors and stakeholders have been concluded to the extent possible.”
The Bermuda Sun tried to contact the Boldens via their trial lawyer Andrew Martin but our calls were not returned.
Former Emerald clients with queries should email: firstname.lastname@example.org