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A gamble too far?

Sports betting firm Centaur Global Holdings Ltd said in 2009 that it held £5m in client funds; but on the 9th of January 2012 it ceased trading and filed for voluntary administration. 

Money Market ran a piece about the company in 2009, when the company claimed to have achieved annual average returns in excess of 50% on its Maxnet football 'Investor Product' over five years. So the old adage still holds true - if sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

The company operated a range of managed accounts based on betting strategies developed by traders at the company and operated through online betting companies such as Betfair. Returns claimed by the company were tempting at a time when equity markets had bombed and deposit interest rates were being slashed. 

 Money Market has tried to reach the company for comment but has not been able to.  However, in an email to clients dated 9th January 2012, seen by MM, chairman Keith Sobey stated four reasons for the closure.

Of worry for Centaur Global clients is the fact that there has been no mention of what had happened to client monies held in private managed accounts at Weatherbys Private Bank. We contacted the bank to obtain clarification on this matter, but they were not immediately able to clarify.

The email said administrators Begbies Traynor has been contacted “who we expect will deal with all outstanding claims from creditors including clients henceforward.” A spokesperson for Begbies Traynor said the company had not been formally appointed as administrator for Centaur Global Holdings, but that the situation should be clarified by the end of January. 
The London Gazette of 17 January 2012 included notification of a meeting of creditors in London on 26 January, filed by Andrew Cork, finance director of Centaur Global, directing information requests to Begbies Traynor.

 As a sports betting firm the company was licensed and regulated by the Gambling Commission as a betting intermediary. Regulation by the Gambling Commission is not as prescriptive as that conducted by the Financial Services Authority with regard to the handling of client monies.

At the time of the original story Centaur Global had yet to establish its London base and no mention was made of the fact that they were planning to launch a hedge fund in 2010 – a considerable expansion in a short time. 
 The Gibraltar domiciled and regulated Centaur Galileo Managed Sports Hedge Fund launched on 16 March 2010, but closed during 2011. We were unable to obtain details of how much had been invested in it or of investor losses.  

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