ADMINISTRATORS say the trail for the £40million collapse of a property empire can be chiefly traced to the doors of an office suite in Darwen.

Investors in Harewood Associates, which once offered eight per cent return on property schemes, have been told they can expect to recoup, at best, a 16p in the pound after the firm went bust earlier this year.

Just days after it emerged Harewood had ran into difficulties, the two men behind the company, Peter and David Kiely, switched the base of its main debtor from Bolton to offices in Dalton Court, in Commercial Road, Darwen.

An investigation by administrators has revealed a series of inter-company debts eventually laid Harewood low.

Administrator Dean Watson, of Begbies Traynor, said their largest debt was to Sherwood Homes, at £19.2m.

This firm is owned by Clifton Argyle Ltd, now based in Dalton Court and run by Peter and David Kiely.

“We have written to Sherwood to formally demand the repayment of the monies due. We have not received any response,” said Mr Watson.

Another £16.7m is owed by Harewood Venture Capital (HVC), another Kielys vehicle ultimately owned by Clifton Argyle, which is in liquidation. No recoveries are expected from either Sherwood nor HVC.

A third Kielys outfit, Lansdowne Investment Partnership, under Walbury Commercial Ltd, based in Darwen since 2016, owes £2.8m. This firm has acknowledged the debt and there may be some prospect of a partial recovery.

The same is being said for Southworth Construction, a further Clifton Argyle offshoot, which owes £1m. Two other Kiely companies, Prestige New Homes and Walmer Homes Northern, owe £415,000 and £41,000 respectively.

The administrators will continue to investigate possible asset recoveries and report back in six months’ time.

More than 888 creditors are owed anything from a few thousand pounds to £250,000, according to administrators.