The decision to suspend work was taken in the wake of allegations made against Elliot Lawless, the 32-year-old founder of Elliot Group, along with a senior official at Liverpool City Council, who are both the subject of an investigation by Merseyside Police.
Elliot Lawless and Nick Kavanagh, Liverpool City Council’s head of regeneration, were arrested on 18th December as part of an ongoing fraud investigation and were released on bail the following morning. Merseyside Police said: “A 32-year-old man from Liverpool city centre has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, bribery and corruption. A 50-year-old man, employed by Liverpool City Council, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in public office.”
Mr Lawless has denied the allegations and neither he nor the council official have been charged with any offence.
Work has been suspended on two developments: Aura, a student scheme on the edge of Liverpool's Knowledge Quarter, which was due to complete in September 2020. It also involves phase one of the Infinity scheme on Leeds Street – a 38-storey, residential tower with 416 apartments, scheduled to be handed over in December 2021.
Vermont said that it was in talks with its supply chain to reassure all subcontractors that payment of all works to date will be met.
All of Vermont Group’s other projects are unaffected by this decision and all operations continue as normal, it said.
Elliot Group expects to restart activity on both Liverpool schemes following the conclusion of outstanding legal matters. A spokesman for Elliot Group said: “We want to resume all works as quickly as possible and to ensure completion of the project for the purchasers and investors.”
Work is continuing at all other live Elliot Group sites.