Sean Woodhall, links to a suspected £100million property scam Ocean View Properties(courtesy ofhttp://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/82370/Vanished)
Sean Woodhall, had links to a suspected £100million property scam and was due to settle his divorce within days. Born Sean Lovelock in London in 1965, he grew up in Cambridgeshire but made his business career in the Birmingham area. At 30 he changed his name to his mother’s surname, Woodhall, after a row with his father, Ron.In 1999 he married Victoria McLeod, now 39, and two years later was given an 18-month suspended sentence for his part in a fraud with franchising venture Advan.Following that conviction, Woodhall took his heavily pregnant wife to the Costa del Sol where he tapped into Spain’s booming property market.For the next few years he worked closely with Staffordshire-based Ocean View Properties, a company run by his friend Colin Thomas.It sold “off-plan” luxury Spanish apartments to British investors, including star sportsmen such as Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry, ex-Leicester City captain Matt Elliott and former England cricketer Paul Nixon.The company, which owes more than £100million, is being investigated by the police and the Insolvency Service. According to former business associates, charming Woodhall, who was a serial adulterer, mingled with ruthless Serbian gangsters on the “Costa del Crime” and became one of the area’s most well-known faces.A Spanish lifestyle magazine even featured him as one of the region’s model businessmen. He also became friends with Prince Albert of Monaco and dealt with controversial Spanish developer Ricardo Miranda, who was named by the Sunday Express last month as being a central figure in the alleged Ocean View scam.As funds from Ocean View customers went missing, Miranda and Woodhall, who lived in the same Marbella complex as Sir Mark Thatcher, eyed Caribbean business opportunities.The pair pinpointed coastline in the Dominican Republic and planned a £3billion golf resort called Punta Perla.Miranda’s company Paraiso Tropical bought the land while Ocean View and Woodhall’s new organisation, Punta Perla Caribbean Ltd, became UK sales agents. Newcastle United’s Alan Smith is thought to be an investor there.However, Miranda, who performed a ground-breaking ceremony at Punta Perla with Prince Albert and Dominican Republic president Leonel Fernandez on Tuesday, succeeded in squeezing Woodhall out of his project.The Briton then turned his attention to potential luxury resorts in Egypt and Brazil. He replicated Ocean View’s business model by controlling sales, mortgage broking, conveyancing and cash flow through a “one-stop shop” operation, Worldwide Destinations.While in Brazil he engaged businessman Ricky Every to find development sites on the north-east coast which he could market as “eco resorts”.He hoped that would appeal to environmentally aware Prince Albert. Woodhall had met the prince several times after being introduced by Costa del Sol mortgage broker Mark Tout, a former British Olympic bobsleigh number one, discredited after admitting taking steroids in 1996.Tout, 47, coached Prince Albert during the royal’s own lengthy Olympic bobsleigh career.Woodhall apparently hoped the donation would trigger an investment appraisal by the foundation’s committee. Among the other potential investors were Kempson, from Cambridgeshire, and Hodges, from Somerset.Together with Woodhall and Every they chartered a plane from Brazilian company Aero Star to fly over the potential Barra Nova Pearl eco-resort on May 2 last year.It took off from Salvador in north-east Brazil and the 40-minute flight was due to arrive in the coastal town of Ilheus at 5.43pm local time.Brazilian investigators are still trying to piece together what happened next but the plane apparently lost contact with air traffic controllers eight miles out to sea, nine minutes before its scheduled landing. The pilots had just announced they were switching from flying by instruments to visual observation.Ellen Duarte, business manager for charter company Aero Star, said: “It was flying perfectly. The pilot said he was making a visual approach to the airport, and that was the last we heard.” Eyewitness reports then vary. One said the plane was flying unusually low, while another described it as “a bit out of control” and that it “swung out towards the sea and then back towards the forest”.“Not long after, it disappeared,” said student Caliana Mesquita.
Rescue teams searched 400km of sea and rainforest for five days but the search was called off after small pieces of wreckage washed up 60 miles north of Ilheus. No bodies were recovered.
Many of Woodhall’s former associates spoken to by the Sunday Express asked not to be named for fear of reprisals. One who knew him from his time in Sutton Coldfield and Solihull described him as “mercenary” and “certainly capable” of faking his death.Others said he had threatened with guns people who owed him money on the Costa del Sol.Property internet forums are awash with people also claiming that Woodhall owed them cash and that he is alive. Conspiracy theories range from the outlandish to the more feasible.Some have suggested that all six crew and passengers bailed out before the crash, while others believe that Woodhall, a man so terrified of flying he had to take Valium, never even boarded the Cessna. Aero Star in Brazil has declined to say whether there is proof that the group boarded the plane. However, Woodhall’s former wife Victoria, who returned to Walsall with their two young children in 2006 when she discovered he had been having affairs, is disgusted at the conspiracy theories.Even though she was left without a penny in maintenance because her decree nisi failed to materialise, she is convinced he is dead.She said: “I’ve been told that the plane went down into the sea from 4,000ft. That would be like hitting a brick wall. Everything would just disintegrate.” Victoria added: “I’ve never thought for one second it could be anything more than an accident. When you know the man the way I do, there’s no way he’d jump out in a parachute.“He loved being the centre of attention, he’d never give up his lifestyle and his friends, which is what you’d have to do if you’d faked it.”Ricardo Miranda, Ocean View Properties and Colin Thomas have all strongly denied any wrongdoing. Mr Tout declined to comment and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation could not be contacted.