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A former public schoolboy has been named as the alleged mastermind behind a multi-million pound property development fraud, according to High Court papers.Charles Cunningham, whose time at Eton overlapped with Prince William’s, has been identified in court papers as controlling a series of companies used to defraud Asian investors of millions of pounds by enticing them with UK developments that were never completed.The son of a City financier, Mr Cunningham, whose brother Rupert is friends with some of Prince Harry’s inner circle, lives in a large country estate in North Wales with his wife. The couple boast a who’s who of society contacts.Mr Cunningham, 38, flatly denies all the allegations and has said that he is confident that a High Court hearing will overturn the freezing order which was brought by the liquidator of Absolute Living Developments.He has been accused of being one of the masterminds behind ALD, which offered five large development projects in northern England that were marketed to investors in the Far East and South-East Asia.But in April 2016 the company, which boasted developments in Runcorn, Manchester and Bradford, went into liquidation.ALD is one of a raft of UK property companies that have become mired in controversy in Asia. Hong Kong investors and politicians have accused the UK authorities and police of turning a blind eye to multi-million pound ‘fraud’.Hong Kong politicians have reported ALD to the Serious Fraud Office and have also asked the Chinese government to protect the interests of Chinese investors in UK property projects. The news comes as Beijing attempts to slow down the outflow of capital from the country.Liquidator Louise Brittain was recently granted a £14.5 million freezing order in the High Court, designed to prevent ‘steps to dissipate or secrete assets’ from ALD by Mr Cunningham and a business partner.In her High Court affidavit in support of the order, the liquidator said she had discovered that ‘a substantial proportion of the monies owed and/or paid to ALD…had been wrongfully diverted’ to three companies, named as DS7, Gozon and EPG Manlet.Brittain states that the ‘three companies form part of a complex structure of entities under the control’ of Mr Cunningham and his alleged business partner, which, she claims, ‘has been used to defraud investors (most of whom are based in Hong Kong and Malaysia)’.Mr Cunningham told The Mail on Sunday: ‘These monies were not wrongfully diverted and a forensic report is currently being prepared which will establish the exact payments and the legitimacy of those payments made by these companies.’ ALD, set up in 2013 to market properties, is linked to a Salford-based company called Fresh Start Living. In 2011, Mr Cunningham was brought in as the face of FSL, but the firm went bankrupt in 2013 with debts of more than £2 million.Mr Cunningham, whose ancestors include baronets and a Founding Father of the American constitution, has a social media profile showing that he is Facebook friends with Ben Vestey, a close friend of Prince William, and Edward Guinness, a scion of the brewing family.In April 2016, Mr Cunningham bought a large Georgian country house in North Wales for more than a million pounds. It has played host to visiting literary giants Lord Byron, William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. Mr Cunningham told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The freezing order is a cynical abuse of power. DS7 categorically refutes all claims and allegations made by Louise Brittai1
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