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‘Large-scale’ investigation into financial company in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 17:01 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:01 16 October 2018

Two people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILL

Two people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILL

A large-scale investigation has been launched into an Ipswich-based financial company

The Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit (ERSOU), which tackles serious organised crime, says more than 100 reports of possible fraudulent activity have been received in relation to Universal Wealth Management and associated companies.

The investigation was initially undertaken by Suffolk Constabulary before being passed to ERSOU due to its scale.

Two people connected with Universal Wealth Management, which went into compulsory liquidation in May, have been arrested for fraud and have been released under investigation.

Universal Wealth Management had its offices in White House Road, Ipswich, and 100 staff have lost their jobs.

Two people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILLTwo people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILL

The firm, which is the subject of a BBC Inside Out East programme this evening, ran seminars around the country called Keep It In The Family.

These were allegedly focused on protecting people’s assets from inheritance tax and helping people avoid care home fees.

A leaflet for one of the companies in the group, Universal Wealth Preservation, stated: “45,000 families every year are forced to sell their homes. Making a will is not enough! Find out how YOU can protect your home and savings from care fees, the taxman and many other threats.”

Several months after the business premises of Universal Wealth Management closed, Universal Asset Protection, a company under the same address, entered into compulsory liquidation. The company website has since been taken down.

Two people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILLTwo people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILL

Although the companies being investigated are registered in Ipswich, the director of the group states on his LinkedIn profile that he is based in Norwich, and the initial BBC investigation from 2011 describes Universal Group as a “Norfolk” company.

ERSOU are now in the process of examining the contents of hundreds of boxes of files that have been seized by police.

Detective Inspector Rob Turner, leading the investigation, said: “Investigations of this type are very complex and by their nature are likely to be long-running.

“I understand the concerns of those who have had dealings with this company and I’d like to reassure people that we are taking this matter seriously.

Two people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILLTwo people connected with Universal Group have been arrested for fraud and are under police investigation Picture: JESSICA HILL

“We’re working closely with a number of partner agencies to ascertain the facts and we will endeavour to keep those affected updated as and when we have any further information.

“We’d urge anyone who has concerns, who has not yet made a report, to get in touch with Action Fraud who will then pass the information to ourselves.”

Anyone with information or who wishes to report a concern is asked to contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via the Action Fraud website.

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