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Property investment duo under fire as SFO probes £140m collapse

signature group

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has raided homes and arrested four people connected to a group of property companies that left some 1,000 investors out of pocket, with some losing 'hudreds of thousands of pounds'.

Liverpool-based the Signature Group was established in 2016 eventually operating 21 residential and commercial properties via some 50 subsidiaries, many of which were hotels. Most were former historic buildings that companies within the group bought up and converted or renovated, backed by individual investors. This included Liverpool's famous Shankly Hotel (main image).

But the company's LinkedInU page also names developments that were acquired and developed much earlier going back to 2008.


In recent months, as concerns about the group’s financial position have been raised, the property empire founded by Lawrence Kenwright and his wife Katie (main image, inset), has been unravelling.

Although Signature Group's overall operations were for many years profitable and developments 'sold out', the manner in which is raised capital left it exposed by the recent financial downturn and before that, Covid.

Investors loaned money to Signature or purchased a hotel room, flat or office space in one of the group’s properties, with promised returns on their investment of between 8% and 15%.

£140 million

The business recently collapsed into administration with losses of up to £140 million and the Kenwrights were also declared bankrupt by the Insolvency Service.

In 2020 six companies within the group went into administration, owing investors millions, with another four going to the wall in 2022.

The SFO has today raided three residences and made four arrests in Merseyside and Greater Manchester as it announced it is investigating Signature Group, supported by the National Crime Agency.

“The scheme offered attractive returns and used much-loved local landmarks to lure investors,” says Nick Ephgrave QPM (pictured), Director of the SFO.

“We have people up and down the country left out of pocket, and buildings left derelict at the centre of our cities.

“Today’s arrests and searches will help us reconstruct exactly what happened. This is now an active criminal investigation.”

If the fraud is proved then the case will be one of the largest sums lost by property investors in living memory.

Photo credits: Google Streetview/Instagram


Property investment
Property fraud