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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 1, 2022

Two British Citizens Arrested For Conspiracy To Defraud Investors In Fraudulent Co-Working Space Business

James Robinson and David Kennedy, Principals of United Property Group, Arrested in Spain For Fraudulently Soliciting Millions of Dollars From Investors in Bar Works Inc. and Related Entities

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced the unsealing of an Indictment charging JAMES ROBINSON and DAVID KENNEDY, both citizens of the United Kingdom, with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud victims by making material misrepresentations about the management and operations of a company called Bar Works Inc. and related entities (“Bar Works”).  On November 30, 2022, ROBINSON and KENNEDY were arrested in Spain, and the United States Government will be seeking their extradition to the United States. 

According to the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court and other court documents related to the prosecution of co-conspirators Renwick Haddow and James Moore:[1]

ROBINSON, KENNEDY, and co-conspirators Renwick Haddow and James Moore are citizens of the United Kingdom (the “UK”).  At all times relevant to the Indictment, United Property Group and related entities (collectively, “UPG”) was a company based in Spain that was controlled in part by ROBINSON and KENNEDY.  UPG sold real estate and other investing opportunities to potential investors.  Bar Works was a private co-working space company controlled by Haddow, which operated locations in New York City and elsewhere between in or about 2015 through 2017 and accepted millions of dollars in investments from investors recruited through UPG, among others.  Prior to launching Bar Works, Haddow had been disqualified as a director of any UK company for eight years and was later sued by the Financial Conduct Authority, a British regulator, for operating investment schemes through misrepresentations that lost investors substantially all of their money.  These sanctions and the lawsuit were publicized online.  

In exchange for millions of dollars in commissions, ROBINSON, KENNEDY, and Moore partnered with Haddow in soliciting investments into workspace leases in Bar Works through material misrepresentations concerning, among other things, the identity of Bar Works’ management and the operations of Bar Works.  Specifically, as ROBINSON and KENNEDY knew, notwithstanding Haddow’s control over Bar Works, Haddow caused the Bar Works offering materials to omit his name entirely, list a fictitious individual named “Jonathan Black” as the Chief Executive Officer of Bar Works, and claim that “Black” had an extensive background in finance and past success with start-up companies.

Through UPG, ROBINSON and KENNEDY recruited agents to sell workspace leases in Bar Works and provided them with fraudulent offering documents and other information.  An account controlled in whole or in part by JAMES ROBINSON and DAVID KENNEDY received over $2 million in commissions from Bar Works in exchange for soliciting victims to invest at least approximately $7.5 million in this scheme.  Separately, Moore received another approximately $1.6 million from Bar Works.  Overall, prior to its collapse in or about June 2017, Bar Works obtained over $57 million from over 800 investors worldwide.

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ROBINSON, 46, and KENNEDY, 47, both of the UK, are each charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy.  Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Renwick Haddow, 54, pled guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement on May 23, 2019, to one count each of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy relating to the Bar Works scheme and one count each of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy relating to a separate Bitcoin-related investment scheme.  Haddow’s sentencing is currently scheduled for April 28, 2023, before United States District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.

James Moore, 62, was found guilty on June 7, 2019, of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud following a week-long jury trial before United States District Judge Richard M. Berman.  On February 1, 2022, Moore was sentenced to 140 months in prison by Judge Berman.

Savraj Gata-Aura, 36, pled guilty on November 18, 2019, to one count of wire fraud conspiracy for his participation in the scheme and was sentenced to 48 months in prison on July 27, 2020, by United States District Judge Jed. S. Rakoff.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  He further thanked the Spanish National Police for their assistance.  Finally, Mr. Williams thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Vladislav Vainberg is in charge of the prosecution.  

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment constitutes only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Securities, Commodities, & Investment Fraud
Contact: 
Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
22-368
Updated December 1, 2022