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British developer shatters Cyprus retirement dreams

A British developer has left nothing but shattered dreams for people planning to retire in Cyprus. Adrian Mills promised luxurious homes in the sunshine but left his clients hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket.

YESTERDAY ‘Inside Out West’ reported on a British property developer with some serious questions to answer, having fled Cyprus after taking an alleged €2.5 million from his customers since 2004.

The BBC investigative team tracked down Adrian Mills, the Managing Director of MDE Nest Homes, to the Gloucestershire village of Dursley where they confronted him.

After numerous court hearings in Cyprus, the judicial system failed to bring Mills to justice. The criminal case against him was dropped by the authorities after he failed to appear in court.

Properties built in the Paphos village of Nata were never completed and many suffer from major structural problems. Mills sold more properties at Choletria, but work on these never started.

An independent surveyor who visited one of the properties at Nata in 2007 declared the site unsafe; Nest Homes had never completed the project.

Speaking to the reporter Jonathan Barnett, who bought a property off-plan in Choletria and who paid more than £200,000 up front, said: “He (Mills) is a complete fantasist, a pathological liar – I have nothing but contempt for the man!” adding that “It’s been a complete and utter nightmare. I have never suffered so much stress in my entire life and we see no end in sight.

Ann Hinton had a lucky escape. She cancelled her contract when she saw the state of her home as it was being built. Ann was one of four buyers who eventually won a civil court judgement in Cyprus against Nest Homes for more than €1 million and who have been chasing the money ever since.

A tearful Ms Hinton said “I would like to think that he (Mills) would be made to feel like he has made myself and others feel. But quite clearly, he has no conscience.

Mills owes tens of thousands of pounds in personal loans made by former friends. One of them, Bernie Bowhay, said: “I’m disgusted at the way he has treated me.

The investigative team also discovered that tens of thousands of pounds paid by the buyers went directly to Adrian Mills himself, sometimes in cash.

BBC video news report

Readers' comments

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  • dimitri says:

    Shame he doesn’t own money to any of the local loan sharks in Cyprus that have been in the news so much recently, I am sure they would have gently persuaded him to cough up……

  • Rona says:

    VP Glynn,

    I have made just as many mistakes as everyone else or I wouldn’t be reading this magazine. I would never pay a developer in cash, because I am not in the business of laundering money, neither would I give a developer the chance to hide from the tax authorities. Your sarcasm is not appreciated.

  • Philip says:

    Dimitri, I agree that Adrian will never willingly come to Cyprus, but if he had committed some other crime, he would be extradited, why the authorities here don’t apply for that I don’t know.

    The property market here is already in a terrible mess, and maybe the Government doesn’t want to do anything to make it worse. I do feel that if the majority of buyers were Cypriots, the Government would take more action, but as its between a British developer and British clients, maybe the authorities take a different view, I could be wrong, but a crime has been committed, namely fraud, and action should be taken.

  • V P Glynn says:

    Rona,
    because they weren’t all as smart as you. Aren’t you a wonderfully clever and astute individual. Give yourself a clap on the back and give yourself a good hard one for me as well.

  • dimitri says:

    @Phllip, he will never willingly come to Cyprus, but surely there is something that can be done by the u.k authorities? This is a ‘united’ europe after all, it is not that the people he has scammed have no proof of his wrong doings, they can file an international arrest warrant or do something rather than just let it go.

  • Philip Burley says:

    I knew Adrian Mills from when I first came to Cyprus nearly eight years ago, he went from timeshare into rental properties, and then started an estate agency business. He left that and went into development, and had another idea about importing classic cars and motor bikes to Cyprus.

    I visited the site at Nata at his invitation, as I myself was in property sales, thankfully I never sold any of his properties, and he did claim to be a Captain in the British army, and was quite proud of the fact that, (he claimed) he was a personal bodyguard to Princess Diana, so that fact that he denies ever saying that is completely false. Just another of his fantasy lies.

    Adrian, I am totally ashamed of you, come to Cyprus, and face the justice you deserve. Your claims that it was the planning and other departments that caused the problems are false, they did not receive all of the money that you took, in cash from your clients.

    You have ruined peoples lives Adrian, and I hope you get what you deserve.

  • Mark says:

    Hi Nigel.
    Actually the village is Uley… NEAR, Dursley.. he was interviewed outside no44 the Street – going by Google maps.. now that doesn’t mean he lives exactly there…

  • dimitri says:

    Well, Specific performance is not going to help a friend of mine alas, developer owes taxes and other charges on land he built houses on (including my friends) and so cannot get deeds without paying the fees and he wont, the cy.gov site says The deposit of the contract of sale creates an encumbrance, which ****expires within six months**** from the date of the contract of sale or six months from the last date of transfer specified therein.

    Madness and if you ask me, as not many people are aware of these loopholes, and the first part of the charter is flawed also, as I am sure many developers not being oracles could not foresee for sure when deeds would be produced due to the sheer shambles of the system and so did not provide and definite date for the issuing of deeds, instead leaving this open ended… (the purchaser may obtain a judgement from the Court directing the registration of the property in his name, if the vendor refuses or fails to transfer the property within the time agreed as per contract of sale.)

  • @Peter – as Dimitri has said, Specific Performance doesn’t protect anyone who has a dodgy home.

    However, looking at the building sites in the video, it seems to me that the ground conditions made the area unsuitable for building.

    Problematic Paphos villages include Agios Photios and Statos, Choletria, Theletra, Episkopi, Marathounda and Armou. Following devastating landslips at Agios Photios and Statos, the Government moved both villages to a new location. Choetria & Theletra villages were also relocated after suffering similar disasters.

    The Geological Survey Department (GSD) map shows bentonite and mélange landslides. These clays absorb huge amounts of water, expanding by as much as 15 times their original volume and shrinking back as they dry out. The extreme forces exerted as they expand and contract can wreak havoc to anything built on them. Deposits of bentonite and mélange can be found at many villages, including Simou, Drinia, Phiti, Milia, Anadiou, Lasa, Krittou, Marottou, Kannaviou, Melamiou, Ayios Dimitrianos, Nata and Fionikaria.

    According to the GSD, engineers and geologists engaged by developers (and others) are responsible for ensuring the stability of any structure and its surrounding area. If problems arise, buyers must pursue their case through the courts; landslide is a natural hazard and properties built in these areas are uninsurable.

    So there may be a further legal avenue that these people could explore.

  • dimitri says:

    thanks Nigel, @Peter Specific Performance does not help anyone who has a‘dodgy’ home with defects, or one that has not been even started. Ok ‘dodgy’ if legislation passes to ‘ignore’ the houses not built entirely within building regs. then some people may get somewhere, but yes I agree if the property has not been started it is useless.

  • @Peter

    You can read about the Cyprus “The Sale of Land (Specific Performance) Law” at:

    http://www.moi.gov.cy/moi/citizenscharter/CitizensCharter.nsf/All/14024F191F54EBBAC2256E550020466D?OpenDocument

    When you buy a property, your lawyer should deposit your contract of sale at the Land Registry. This creates a charge (encumbrance) against the property you are buying that prevents its owner from selling it to anyone else (unless your name happens to be Conor O’Dwyer).

    If, when the Title Deeds are ready, the owner refuses to transfer ownership of the property to you, you can apply to the court for an order instructing the Land Registry to carry out the transfer.

  • Peter says:

    Dimitri, Specific Performance is an old Chancery Division appeal to the King’s concious where an individual can show although there was no formal contract there was an agreement. It is an exception to the rule that land can only be transferred by formal contract (signed sealed and delivered).

    The action of Specific Performance does not help anyone who has a ‘dodgy’ home with defects, or one that has not been even started.

    Specific Performance can be used for example where there was an oral agreement to sell so that the new buyer started with restoration, increasing the value of the property, only to find once the work is completed the owner changed their mind and decided to keep the house. Then Specific Performance will force the sale through.

  • Andrew says:

    So you fail to appear in court and the authorities drop the case. You could almost believe it, if this were some despotic dictatorship. Ronnie Biggs should have come to Cyprus.

    Will The UK ever do anything to defend their citizens?

    Will the Cyprus legal system ever do anything to protect the innocent buyer.

    Will the EU ever do anything other than debate what to do with surplus milk etc.

    These good people were not just scammed by Mills. The rot goes much deeper. Let us hope that the BBC and ITV start to truly investigate the Cyprus property market and the legal and banking system that surrounds it.

  • dimitri says:

    Peter, not that it is any consolation to those that feel discriminated against, justice here is only preserved for the few privileged, you have the funds you have justice, totally wrong but a fact. On Anon’s point of specific performance as I understood it from below definition I dug up, it will be very interesting to see how that pans out.

    Specific Performance Law safeguards a purchaser of immovable property from a transaction between a seller and a purchaser, especially when the purchaser is not allowed to immediately transfer the acquired property onto his/her name even though payment of the consideration has been effected.

    According to the provisions of Specific Performance Law, the purchaser of immovable property may secure the transfer of the acquired property onto his/her name by depositing a duly signed and stamped copy of the contract at the Land Registry, within two (2) months from the signing of the contract.

    By depositing the contract in the Land Registry, the purchaser prevents the owner from transferring the property elsewhere or changing it, for as long as the contract is valid and legally effective. No burdens, charges or encumbrances can affect the right of specific performance after the contract has been deposited with the Land Registry.

    Depositing a copy of the contract to the Land Registry gives the purchaser the right to seek “specific performance” of the terms and conditions of the contract and thus to register the property onto the purchaser’s name, even though the owner may not be willing to accommodate such procedures.

  • Matt says:

    @Anon – you’re right in what you say.

    The whole Cypriot system is corrupt.

    Being Cypriot myself, I’m ashamed to say that since the 1973 invasion, Cypriots have never been so well off.

    It’s tragic that the invasion happened, but these days from what I’ve observed first hand, I can see a lot of well off Cypriots. Plenty of money in the bank for all the family. A piece of land each and no financial worries like most of us in the UK face.

    How was the Cypriot market during the 1960’s and how has it improved to this day…

    It’s been a success story for most!

  • Anon says:

    Mills was a charmer. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but he wasn’t the only one involved in this scam.

    Its time this was looked into a little deeper and the other snakes were flushed out of their safe little holes.

    The company is in receivership so lets see if the powers that be start to repossess the properties that all have specific performances registered against them then we’ll see if the Cyprus laws apply.

  • Peter says:

    “After numerous court hearings in Cyprus, the judicial system failed to bring Mr Mills to justice. The criminal case against him was dropped by the authorities after Mr Mills failed to appear at in court”.

    Well what did expect justice in Cyprus for the Brits?

    Of course had there been a Cypriot amongst the victims, that would have been a different matter.

    A two tier legal system in a 3rd World Country where the attitude is the Brits get all they deserve for their past occupation of the Island.

    But please don’t stop coming we need your money, its nice to see you get your comeuppance. Not that we don’t have pride we have a lot of shallow pride coupled with tons of shallow feelings.

  • Rona says:

    Why on earth would anyone pay a developer in cash.

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