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Fraud claim filed against HSBC Bank for ‘sham’ investment scheme

A fraud claim worth £1.3 billion has been submitted by 371 investors against HSBC UK Bank for losses incurred due to their Eclipse Partnerships film investment scheme, which they claimed they were instigated to invest in on “false promises”.

The Eclipse scheme was formed, enhanced, and promoted by HSBC to fund a number of blockbuster Disney films such as Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3, National Treasure 2, Enchanted, Underdogs, and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

However, the claimants – who have registered their complaint with law firm Edwin Coe LLP – stated that none of these film rights were ever traded actively, resulting in significant losses and potential liabilities.

HSBC reportedly received more than £25 million in fees for its part in Eclipse, which was available to investors between the years 2006 and 2008. About 750 people invested a combined £2.3 billion of capital in Eclipse – all of whom gathered loans to finance the investment which was believed to be paid off with the return they made.

According to Edwin Coe, a number of investors in the scheme – which was publicized as “a legitimate tax-efficient investment” – have gone bankrupt or are facing huge demands from HMRC that are about as much as ten times than their original investments, as no trade-in film rights were ever made by Eclipse with Disney.

David Greene, the senior partner at Edwin Coe, said: “Eclipse was a sham investment opportunity.” It seems that the investments made by clients were easily transferred between funder and Disney entities in a circular manner.

He further stated: “It was a risk-free income stream for Disney, HSBC, and the lending banks – but financially catastrophic for its unwitting investors.” Eclipse did not exploit, or otherwise trade in, any meaningful film rights of any value from Disney at any point. 

HSBC has declined to comment on the issue, as yet.