About two years ago, David Blake was released from prison with $150 in his pocket.
Today, he owns a business that employs eight people and has sales of over $50 million.
“My life is back on track again,” he said.
He was released from prison on Christmas Eve 2019, a “broken man”, Blake said.
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His wife then told him she wanted a divorce and at rock bottom he called his father in Christchurch and asked if he could come home. He tried various jobs until he and a friend started Investment Build.
The company is based in a serviced office in Christchurch and caters to people looking for residential investment. As Blake, 61, described it, the company, which is not a registered company, offered its investors a section and construction package, specializing in duplexes.
The investor then paid the money to the accountant of Investment Build who used the money to pay the builder for this project only. Investment Build then managed the construction project and obtained margin on the construction contract. Blake said his company built 43 homes in its first year and plans to build another 100 in its second year.
“The customer never has to deal directly with the builder and the builder doesn’t have to deal directly with the customer,” Blake said.
“We currently have 46 houses completed or under construction. We are currently selling 10 new projects per month… We now have a steady stream of customers waiting for us to create new projects.
It also operates a golf program that invites golfers to register to win a hole-in-one jackpot.
Blake has a complex past. He has gone bankrupt three times and has been linked to a number of corporate disasters and scams.
Formerly known as David Colin Hughey, Blake first went bankrupt in 1992, aged 32, and again in 2004, the latter bankruptcy lasting until 2011.
In February 2010, he was convicted of five counts of operating a business while an undischarged bankrupt. Because of these convictions, he was prohibited from being a director of a company for five years. His ban expired on February 10, 2015.
The pattern began to repeat itself when he was again filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and again prosecuted for running businesses while banned. He was sentenced to two years and four months in prison for these offences. The High Court then barred him from being a director for 12 years in 2019.
Some of his difficulties stemmed from two companies – Hygiene Foundation and Q Technology – operated with Lance Jared Ryan. They went into liquidation in 2013 and 2014 before their creditors for $700,000 and $600,000 respectively.
Hygiene Foundation presented itself as a hygiene consulting company, offering a white tick program to clients who passed the tests using equipment provided by the company. Customers were listed as members and had the right to advertise the tick and obtain certificates.
At the time the staff said Thing the program was basically a scam because certificates and ticks were often distributed without testing. Staff claimed that Blake ran the business.
His partner Lance Ryan will later be investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over a Christchurch-based Ponzi scheme that cost investors $8 million. Ryan was jailed for seven years and six months for fraud related to the scam.
Blake’s golf buddy, Christchurch cleaner Jimmie McNicholl, was sentenced in 2018 to 11 months house arrest and 350 hours of community service for his minor role in the Ponzi scheme.
Blake ‘totally’ acknowledged he had a bumpy ride, but said he had learned his lessons and shouldn’t have to repeatedly pay for his past mistakes, he said. he declares.
“I did things wrong, but I’m not doing anything wrong now.”
When asked why it took him until he was 60 to learn his lesson, he replied, “I learned, I’m learning slowly.”
Released from prison with $150 in his pocket, his success was an incredible story, he said.
He said he told all of his clients about his journey, but at least one investor spoke to Thing said Blake did not tell him about his case. The investor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said its construction was in its early stages but appeared to be going well.
Blake said he was eligible to participate in Investment Build because it was not a business but an individual entrepreneur. He only owned the business and had staff to operate it. He did not actively work in the company and was content to take care of sales and marketing.
Funds from investors went to an accounting firm called VG Accounting, which funneled the money to the builder and other parties, he said.
“It’s the safest build a person can make…I want to make it extremely safe for my investors,” he said.
He had reinvested all profits back into the business and had no debt. Two of his bankruptcies were caused by his inability to pay a settlement with his wife, he claimed. The other happened when he was young.
VG Accounting was set up by Victoria Ann Hembry in July 2019. She appears to work from home in Richmond Hill and is the company’s largest shareholder.
Her husband, Richard John Hembry, is the financial controller of Investment Build and also owns a share of VG Accounting.
Vicki Hembry said her husband was an Investment Build contractor rather than a staff member.
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“Investor funds, paid at each completed stage of their construction contract, are paid into the trust account of VG Accountancy Limited – at this point we issue an acknowledgment of receipt of funds to the investor. These funds are disbursed to the intended recipients on the same day – we do not generally hold the funds overnight, payments received late in the day may be the exception but will be processed the next day. By implementing this additional step, neither Investment Build nor the builder involved in the investor’s construction contract receives funds that are not intended for them.
Builder Mike McConway said his company had built 15 homes since January 2021 through Investment Build, although in each case his contract was with the individual investors.
“So far everything has gone well as he uses a third party agency through which all payments are made,” he said.
“What I’m led to believe is that no member of the Investment Build team has access to the funds.
“I think Dave has good intentions for Investment Build. They’re sales people, not construction experts. Projects flow pretty seamlessly when they come into my hands. I manage them as a project.
Blake said he did not win any money from the Golf Jackpot program, although he hoped to attract advertisers. He funded the program because he was an “avid golfer”. He employed two employees to run the business.
“I now enjoy golf almost every day and my passion of building Jackpot Golf…it’s my creative outlet to help people enjoy the game and support charities. It’s also a vehicle promotional for Investment Build.
“I think everyone in the world has times in their lives where, given the chance, they could do something different… I’ve never done anything sneaky to go broke and in each case, my intentions were always the best.”