A COUPLE being investigated following an alleged £390million Caribbean property have been declared bankrupt.

David Ames, 66, of Brock Hill, Wickford, and his wife Carol Ann, of the same address, appeared at Southend County Court last week.

The couple, who are being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, were made subject to bankruptcy orders by Judge Humpreys after 24 creditors made an application to the court.

One creditor, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It’s a huge relief this has gone through as it’s been an absolute nightmare.”

The bankruptcy hearing is believed to be linked to a fraud investigation into Ames in relation to Caribbean property investments involving thousands of creditors.

David Ames, chairman of the Harlequin Group of companies, has been charged with three counts of fraud by abuse of position concerning a total of £390 million allegedly lost by investors between January 2010 and June 2015.

The first charge involves alleged dishonesty from 2010 onwards, and a loss to investors of around £225m.

The second charge concerns alleged dishonesty from 2011 onwards and a loss of around £130m.

Both these charges concern UK-registered company Harlequin Management Services (South East) Ltd, based at Honywood Road, Basildon, which is being liquidated.

The third charge relates to a successor offshore company, Harlequin Hotels and Resorts (Cayman) Ltd, and alleges dishonesty from mid 2012 onwards, concerning a loss to investors of around £35m.

The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the marketing, sale and construction of luxury off-plan property developments in the Caribbean and other resort locations.

The prosecution was brought after an investigation by the SFO, together with Essex Police, which began in March 2013.

The scheme was backed by celebrities including football pundit Andy Townsend, property guru Phil Spencer and tennis Grand Slam winner Pat Cash.

David Ames denies all the charges and a trial is set to take place at Southwark Crown Court next month.