Panorama – Standing Up for The Little Guy!

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You don’t like to see someone being taken advantage of.

So when we were contacted by the BBC’s Panorama programme to help them out with a cowboy “investment company” we couldn’t say no.

Background

Over thirty five Social clubs, sports clubs and working men’s clubs around the country have been targeted by this company.

Many of these clubs are run by local people, for local people and these clubs been part of their local communities for years – a lot of these clubs are asset rich, cash poor and in some cases in a lot of debt.

Asset Stripping

His “modus operandi” was to identify local clubs in financial difficulty and then to trick the Trustees into signing paperwork. A lot of the clubs were run on a voluntary basis and it was easy for him to gain the trust of these people, promising long-term financial security for the club.

Often, he would pay off their debts using the clubs as security and then overseeing the sale of the club house (and in some cases, it included prime development land adjacent to the club house).

He would then use another of his companies to buy the club house and land at a significantly reduced fee, leaving the local communities without a facility and him free to develop the land and cub house for significant financial gain.

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Condition of the Buildings

Another of his “modus operandi” was for him to convince the owners of the clubs that their building was unsafe, and therefore virtually worthless.

We were instructed to carry out a detailed survey of one of the social clubs and report on our findings. There were a few defects as you would expect from an ageing building, but nothing that would condemn the building.

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Although they didn’t refer to our report directly on the programme, the team at Panorama were reassured that they had a professionally prepared opinion in hand in case the fraudster had his own team condemn the building, invalidate the insurance, thereby preventing the Trustees operating the building and rendering it ‘worthless’ – becoming his next undervalued acquisition.

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