Darkknight Ventures LLC and co-plaintiffs awarded nearly £2m in damages and costs following investment fraud ruling

LONDON, Aug. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Darren Shirlaw and Anna Barton, his partner in a business coaching venture, have been ordered to pay damages and costs of nearly £2m to three investors who sued the pair for fraud.

Shirlaw and Barton were found jointly liable for fraudulent misrepresentation at Central London County Court.

Judge Monty QC said Shirlaw and Barton were "wilfully and deliberately dishonest" in sales pitches to investors they sold shares to. The judgment found that valuations Shirlaw gave for the business he sold shares in were "totally illusory."

Shirlaw and Barton were found to have fraudulently misrepresented the value of Shirlaws Group Ltd, at the time registered in the British Virgin Islands, telling investors it was worth up to £60m at a time when its real value was between £290,000 and £635,000.

Darren Shirlaw has operated "business coaching" ventures using the name Shirlaws in the USA and Australia as well as the UK.

The three investors who sued Darren Shirlaw and Anna Barton for fraud in the London court were sold blocks of shares for £328,500, £300,000 and £49,863 between 2013 and 2015, based on false valuations.

Investors were told the company’s income came from business coaching and that it would be able to sell millions of pounds worth of licences for its business coaching method. However, the Judge said most of the income came from sales of shares to new investors, not sales of business coaching courses. The Judge recorded evidence that described Darren Shirlaw as operating a "Ponzi scheme."

Paul Stead of Richmond, London, is one of the investors who sued Shirlaw for fraud. Mr Stead, formerly CEO of the Fitch design group, said he had devoted five and half years to getting his money back and exposing the fraud.

Mr Stead commented: "It’s been a very long journey, but I decided to go through with it because it’s about stopping it happening again."

Jack Cohen of Aspen, Colorado, USA, bought shares through his company Dark Knight Ventures LLC.

Mr Cohen commented: "There is no amount of due diligence that protects an investor from a sponsor who wilfully and deliberately commits fraud. We are sharing the word to protect other investors from being duped."

Shirlaw and Barton were ordered to pay damages and costs of £1.87 million, including damages of £1,245,830, interest of £80,000 and legal costs of £530,000. 

The full judgment has been made available by Tenet solicitors in their article here.

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