Jun 232017
 

Channel 4 News did a good job exposing the Tory telephone canvassing operation in Neath, but who’d have thought it, eh, principled Young Conservatives up to no good. I am appalled. And in Neath, of all places, fiefdom of the Orange Baron.

The call centre seems to have been run by a guy called Sascha Lopez, here’s his Linkedin profile. He speaks English with an accent local to Neath, but his Linkedin profile says he also speaks Spanish, so I’d guess his parents are Spanish but he was brought up in the Swansea area, for he now lives in Pontardawe.

Before attending Gorseinon College he was a pupil at Ffynone House School in Swansea. Now I remember this school, and all the others in town at the time of my own education (much of it gained in the tiled wonderland of a subterranean snooker hall).

There was Gregg’s, Clark’s, Emmanuel and others. The gap they seemed to fill was for kids who’d failed the 11+ examination but whose parents had enough money to avoid the stigma of their offspring attending a secondary modern school with all those rough children. I suppose they pander to a very similar petit bourgeois prejudice in the era of comprehensive education.

You’ll see that on his Linkedin profile young Sascha tells us that he works for Blue Telecoms, and has done since May 2011. (‘Blue’ is presumably a nod to the Conservative Party?) Now there’s a website for Blue Telecoms but I cannot find anything listed with Companies House. So what is the status of Blue Telecoms. Is it not a company? Or is it registered outside of the UK? I think we should clear up the nature of the beast Sascha Lopez runs.

While Blue Telecoms may not be listed I came across a number of other companies linked to Sascha Lopez, some of which are, alas, no longer with us. Among this group we find Fone Venture Ltd, Incorporated 10 May 2010 but by 1 July 2010 Lopez was gone, resigned, but he must have had second thoughts, because he was back on board 15 November 2010. Even so, early in 2011, Fone Venture Ltd was wound up. His partner in this venture, each of them holding one Ordinary share, was Aaron Paul Trevallion.

Moving on, we come to SwanseaIT Ltd, Incorporated 17 May 2011 with, again, Lopez and Trevallion each having a single share. June 2016 saw the arrival as directors of Rebecca Elizabeth Parkin, Kieran John Davies and Robert Paul Harris. These are names we encounter on Lopez’ Linkedin profile, having worked for the Conservative Party during the 2015 election campaign. SwanseaIT was wound up 30 November 2016.

The next company was MediaIO Ltd, Incorporated 11 June 2013 and without submitting any accounts or other documentation the company was struck off by January 2015. The two directors, each with a single share, were of course Lopez, but also Ignacio Lopez, or Ignacio Lopez-McGarry. Now things get a little confusing.

Because on 13 February 2015 Lopez Incorporated a company named Media IO Ltd, obviously a slightly different name to MediaIO Ltd, and of course a different company number. There was just one share, and it was held by Sascha Lopez. On 29 July 2016 the name was changed to the grand-sounding The Lopez Group Ltd, but it’s another company formed by Sascha Lopez that does absolutely nothing, or at least, nothing that is ever declared to Companies House.

Coming up to date we have Endgame Cafe Ltd, Incorporated 12 January 2016. This is something of a departure for Lopez, because as the name suggests, we are now in the realm of ‘unlicensed restaurants and cafes’. But again, there seems to be no activity, with the only document filed being a Confirmation Statement on 11 January 2017 confirming that Sascha Lopez holds the only share.

Finally, we come to Direct Market Solutions Ltd, an unusual company for Lopez to be involved with, partly because it’s been going for more than ten years, and partly because it actually seems to do business. So it’s no surprise to learn that Lopez has only recently joined, 25 August 2016 to be exact. The shares held by the former directors, John Wayne Lewis and Yvonne Gillian McGarry have now been transferred to Lopez. (Some connection, surely, with Ignacio Lopez-McGarry?)

These are all the companies listed if you follow the link I supplied above, but there is one more, and this is really curious. The name of the company is Inter Transit Group Ltd. It was Incorporated 28 July 2016 and under ‘Nature of Business’ we read, ‘Other transportation support activities’. Another departure for Sascha Lopez.

But what is really strange is the share issue. In all the other companies we’ve looked at it’s been a case of one share per director, but with this company, where Lopez is the sole director, he holds no less than 10,000 shares!

Why 10,000 shares for a one-man band? Are there plans for this company? Maybe others involved that we don’t know about? Let me stress that this is not a shares tip, but I strongly suggest that – unless I’ve put the kibosh on it – this is a company worth watching.

There may of course be a perfectly innocent explanation, so I’m open to suggestions as to why there are 10,000 shares issued for Inter Transit Group Ltd.

Sascha Lopez is clearly an interesting young man. Equally clear is that he’s committed to the Conservative cause . . . whatever that might be nowadays. For as recently as May he stood for the party in the council elections, for the Pontardawe ward of Neath Port Talbot council. (Yes, I know, Pontardawe is in the Swansea Valley.)  He didn’t win.

I suspect that the Kieran John Davies who stood with him is the same Kieran John Davies we encountered on Lopez’ Linkedin profile and as a director of SwanseaIT Ltd.

There’s no question that Lopez was working for the Conservative Party with his call centre in Neath, as he admits to having done in 2015. Given that there may have been a hundred people working there, it’s reasonable to ask who paid their wages. Was it the Conservative Party? If not, then who, because I doubt if Lopez has that kind of money.

Something else that came out of the Channel 4 News report was that the Neath call centre was concentrating – certainly on polling day – on Welsh marginal seats, so were there similar operations in England and Scotland?

One thing I’m sure of, there’s a lot more to be learnt about this call centre, and the man who ran it. Here are four questions to be getting on with:

  1. Who or what is Blue Telecoms, the company of which Lopez has been CEO since May 2011, and why is it not registered with Companies House?
  2. Why do Sascha Lopez’ companies seem to nose-dive so soon after taking off? Is this by accident or design?
  3. Who paid for the Neath call centre?
  4. Why does one-man band Inter Transit Group Ltd need 10,000 shares?

As usual, answers on a post card please, and the lucky winner gets to take Jac out on a Malbec-filled evening to remember. Somebody has to be lucky!

♦ end ♦

UPDATE 25.06.2017: Sascha Lopez is indeed an interesting character, and more information has come to light that fills out the picture but also presents us with more questions.

You’ll remember that I wondered why I couldn’t find anything on the Companies House website for Blue Telecoms, well one source pointed me to the CH document which tells us that SwanseaIT was trading as Blue Telecoms. The problem here is that SwanseaIT was wound up 21 November 2016, yet Blue Telecoms was still operating during the general election earlier this month.

So maybe Blue Telecoms was transferred to some other company. But I cannot find any other company with which Lopez is connected that claims to ‘T/A Blue Telecoms’. Which could mean that Blue Telecoms exists in a void (and here I can’t resist adapting Djilas), ‘the void of its own non-existence’. Which would make Blue Telecoms illegal.

I am indebted to Brychan for digging out the fact that Lopez and his mate Trevallion registered a company in Ireland, Conrad Communications Ltd. It was set up 22 September 2014 and dissolved 13 July 2016. Brychan suspects that this company, and the date of its dissolution, may be connected with the EU referendum in the UK. Anyone have any thoughts?

Another mystery we encountered was why, after a string of one-share-per-director companies, Lopez had a 10,000 share issue for the Inter Transit Group Ltd, a company set up last July with him as the sole director. This company has a website and a Facebook page, unlike some of Lopez’ other, near-invisible companies.

Another source suggested that we might find the reason for the 10,000 shares in legislation designed to encourage share distribution among a company’s employees. This is possible, but there’s no mention of employees becoming shareholders on either the website or the FB page, and the latter is used to advertise for drivers. Which makes me think there’s some other explanation.

A further comment quoted an unnamed source, “Issuing a higher quantity is also beneficial for creating the image of a substantial, credible and secure business. The nominal value of a company’s issued shares represents the liability of its owners if the business is wound up or accrues debts that is cannot pay. This is an important consideration for creditors, investors, clients and suppliers, all of whom want to feel confident about the viability and security of any business they become involved with.”

But I’m not persuaded by this, either. So I’ll ask again: Can anyone offer any suggestions as to why Sascha Lopez issued 10,000 shares for his Inter Transit Group?

What’s become clear is that Sascha Lopez and those he associates with have a cavalier attitude to company law and other forms of legislation. Perhaps they regard anything designed to protect customers, creditors and employees as ‘red tape’ holding back ambitious people like them.

Which makes them ideal Conservatives, and explains why they were running that call centre operation in Neath that may have over-stepped a number of lines, and should therefore be of interest to regulators and the Electoral Commission.

UPDATE 10.11.2017: There has been a resolution, of a sort. Here’s the Information Commissioner’s report.

  55 Responses to “‘Oh, Hello, Mrs Twp, would you like to give me your bank details . . . or how about voting Conservative?’”

  1.  

    Interesting article Jac – I didn’t see the Channel 4 news article but at the end of a piece in The Guardian yesterday relating to the story there was a quote at the end:
    ‘Lopez said that Blue Telecoms and Axe Research are “trading styles” of the Lopez Group’.

    “Trading styles’ is a new one on me but I did come across this definition on the net:
    A ‘trading style’ or ‘trading as name’ is a name a business chooses to us which is different from their registered company name. So, for example, a company may be officially registered as Manchester Childrens Party Entertainer Ltd. but may ‘trade as’ Cosmo the Clown.

    •  

      Ah, the multinational, transcontinental Lopez Group. Thanks for that, Andy.

      Though I’m still a wee bit perplexed. Blue Telecoms has been going since 2011. The Lopez Group is the name adopted by Media IO Ltd 29 July 2016 and Media IO was set up 13 February 2015.

    •  

      And now someone has been touch telling me that Swansea IT was T/A Blue Telecom, which seems to be correct. The problem here is that Swansea IT has been liquidated.

      •  

        This is correct. In the Companies House filing history, Swansea IT was t/a Blue Telecom. I think this needs to be referred to the Insolvency Service ad the company is in liquidation.

        I also noticed inaccuracies in the filing of Direct Marketing and have contacted Companies House. (The last accounts were signed off by a director who was removed months earlier)

        I did before reading your article pass all of this information to Channel 4 News.

        •  

          I suspect that Mr Lopez has a few more questions to answer, and I’d love to know why his latest venture needs 10,000 shares.

          •  

            https://www.facebook.com/intertransitgroup/
            They also deliver leaflets apparently.

            •  

              For whom, I wonder?

              •  

                It is quite common for people who distribute leaflets to drop several different leaflets, from different companies, at the same time.
                If they were dropping political leaflets for free, at the same time as a paid drop for somebody else, would that have to be declared as an election expense?

            •  

              …and a website

          •  

            An old friend suggests that the 10,000 shares might be explained with this.

            •  

              In addition to the suggestions contained in that link. I have thought about this, and done some research.
              1. He could be thinking of either giving away or selling some of those shares in exchange for investment into his company.
              2. Alternatively, I have found a piece written quite succinctly which states:
              “Issuing a higher quantity is also beneficial for creating the image of a substantial, credible and secure business. The nominal value of a company’s issued shares represents the liability of its owners if the business is wound up or accrues debts that is cannot pay. This is an important consideration for creditors, investors, clients and suppliers, all of whom want to feel confident about the viability and security of any business they become involved with.”

              I noted his company ‘Fone Venture Ltd’ went into voluntary Liquidation. Swansea IT Ltd was made Insolvent by the Court following a petition by the HMRC (I am wondering why he hasn’t been disqualified from being a Director after this one – a question for Companies House maybe?)

              Bearing in mind that Swansea IT was wound up last year, but the issues around Blue Telecoms behaviour relate to the election earlier this month, I suspect Blue Telecoms is now being run through one of his other ‘Active’ Companies. I did find mention of Blue Telecoms as being run through his Company Direct Market Solutions Ltd http://companydb.uk/05829714-direct-market-solutions-limited#.WU7lD-mQzIX although I cant vouch for when this is dated or its accuracy. Having looked at the accounts for Direct Market Solutions Ltd, I do believe that it too is in some financial difficulties, and is ripe for being his next business to go bust.

            •  

              I’ve seen the 10,000 shares in the delivery business before.

              A decade or so ago with the decline of home delivered milk, major dairies pulled out of this market to concentrate on supermarkets. Franchising was not a goer because of declining doorstep sales. Charlatan businesses sprung up to plug the gap, essentially the ‘driver’ of the milk float or van has to buy the vehicle and this is absorbed into the company by value in return for shares. The driver is an employee director with a temporary tax break, exempt from employee protection legislation, and responsible for own insurances. When the milk round finally collapses, the whole company goes into liquidation, by which time the original directors have already pocketed the cash by selling shares, and the ‘driver directors’ lose the capital they have invested as fully depreciated and worthless vehicles is the only asset held.

              Any legitimate delivery business would have invested in their own vehicles to benefit from fleet purchasing. The ‘Inter Transit Group’ smacks of a way of scamming older drivers in economically poor areas of retirement nest eggs or redundancy cheque from vulnerable workers, converting it into sold shares where the original directors run off with the ‘buy-in’ capital and wash their hands of the pyramid having trousered the cash.

              •  

                This must be a possibility, because with the best will in the world I don’t see Sascha Lopez as a philanthropist or a caring employer.

  2.  

    What? The nice ‘nasty party’? NEVER!

    He’s a classic ‘Tory Boy’ isn’t he?

  3.  

    Not really surprised by this story breaking. Early on in the GE campaigning I had a call from some inarticulate “yooff” based in Swansea area who wanted to know my voting intentions etc. So I had a funny 5 minutes dragging the stupid cnut through the gutters hailing Corbyn as saviour on the one hand while damning everything from EU, Banksters, foreigners, BLT’s,private sector, public sector, and so on. I think the guy got the message although his script got left behind very early on in the call. If the Tories or anybody else paid for this kind of service then they lack any capacity for serious judgement, as I can imagine a lot of mean bastards like me would have engaged in some serious piss taking which renders the exercise useless as a means of gathering intel.

  4.  

    Brilliant Jac, and the kind of sherlockian piece we have come to expect of you. With you on the case there’ll be some sleepless nights ahead in welsh tory circles im sure. And to judge by a comment left on a WOL story yesterday looks like Sascha lopez might not be the only welsh tory playing fast and loose with electoral law. By this account Swansea tory leader Lyndon Jones misled people – claiming to live in the bishopston ward when he in fact lives outside the ward, and he has also been recruiting people to work in the neath call center.

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/after-being-wiped-out-swansea-13222333

    •  

      It’s the claim, in the WoL comments box, that Lyndon Richard Jones has links with Sascha Lopez’s company that’s interesting. Lyndon Richard Jones MBE is Deputy Chairman (Political) of the Welsh Conservatives.

      •  

        The call centre in Neath was not a rogue operation, it was approved by the party, it only remains to be established at what level in the chain of command it was approved.

        •  

          The btl comment states that Lyndon Richard Jones recruited people to work for Sascha Lopez.
          It’s who approved the script for use by those calling electors that matters. If the script was emailed at some time, the evidence will be stored.

          btw: Ffynone House wasn’t up and running until 1973 so you probably remember it as St Winefride’s Convent School which closed in 1969.

          •  

            You’re right! I remember now, my old man tried to get me in to St Winefride’s. Or did I try to get in on my own? It was all a long time ago.

  5.  

    BritNat FarRight goons were scheduled to meet at various events today. Big names from various Euro Nat groups were going to address these AngloBrit supremacists but Old Bill met them at airports and detained them. Massive irony that one of the Euros due to perform for these AngloBrit nut jobs is a Far Right Polish priest who specialises in anti Semitic ranting. Did he realise that his audience today is minded send all Poles back to Poland because they are upset that Poles came to EnglandandWales to take their jobs, those same jobs that couldn’t be filled by idle natives due to the hard work involved !! And these AngloBrits consider themselves superior !!!!

  6.  

    Have to disagree with you Jac regarding private schools.I had an eye injury from a snowball in 1948 which resulted in losing my sight in my left eye and also a great deal of school during the year prior to sitting my 11+ I border lined and went to a secondary modern school for 1 year before taking my 11+ again- I failed again as the school concentrated on teaching me how to launder,iron and cook and no help in sitting my 11+.I was the youngest of 5- my parents scrimped and saved to send me to the Bible College of Wales later called Emmanual GS. I went onto Swansea Univ and then followed a career as a Librarian,later returning to the Univ. as an Assistant Librarian.You cannot stereotype those who go to private schools- there are genuine and valid reasons for doing this.I know this is a deviation from your main topic but felt that now at the age of 80 I was justified in challenging your comments.

    •  

      My God! ‘border lined’, I haven’t heard that term used in that context for more than 50 years.

      I don’t doubt your situation, but the fact remains that the boys I knew who went to these private schools had all failed the 11+ and their parents forked out to avoid them going to a secondary modern school.

      So I suppose we’re both right.

  7.  

    Jac In your Twitter column you are quite right to mention the little boy waving a flag of the Union, but surely the overriding concern is the presence of 3 grown men in what purports to be ceremonial skirts – now that must cast all this loyalist mumbojumbo in a seriously deviant light, or what ? Are the appropriate authorities prepared to step in to protect the child, or will they protect the deviants ?

    •  

      With the men apparently unable to agree on which leg to wear the sgian dubh.

      •  

        The sgian-dubh is normally worn on the same side as the dominant hand. – Wikipedia.
        Gone are the days when the left-handed could join a fighting regiment and get a rifle with the mechanism suited for those whose left eye is dominant. The standard issue NATO rifle is for right-handed, right-eye dominant users.

        •  

          Daley, how have we managed without your encyclopaedic knowledge, everything from sgian dubh to NATO rifles? I am in awe.

  8.  

    Lopez and Trevallion established a company called Conrad Communications Limited in Ireland (550205) in 2014. The company was wound up a month after the Brexit referendum in 2016.

    https://search.cro.ie/company/CompanyDetails.aspx?id=550205&type=C

    It was headquartered at an accommodation address above a Tesco Express store in College Green, Dublin 2. An address often used on the IR35 circuit. A way of moving cash generated in the UK through the ultra-low corporation tax regime there, but having to be EU declared for contractual compliance.

    •  

      Now that is interesting, Brychan.

      One thing I didn’t mention in my post is that Lopez campaigned to remain in the EU, not really surprising, I suppose.

      •  

        I was a REMAIN. In the style of Ireland. Use EU funding for what needs doing, like the new railway line from Ennis to Athenry (we’re still waiting for Carmarthen to Aberystwyth) or investing in indigenous businesses. Not cash to be trousered by corrupt third sector drains and parachuted consultants like we see in Wales. However, I’d be very interested to know for what purpose Lopez and Trevellion established Conrad. Was it to make Pizza leaflets for Dubliners, or used as a tax avoiding offshore call centre for the Brexit gig? I suspect the motive being corazon espinado (a legal term not often used in Pontardawe or Ballsbridge).

  9.  

    I did receive a telephone call during the election campaign. The caller stated he was undertaking research on behalf of the Conservative party and asked if I could spare the time to answer a few questions. I was busy at the time so I declined and the call ended at that point. Interestingly, I am registered with the Telephone Preference Service to try and avoid nuisance calls.

  10.  

    you might want to take a look at https://twitter.com/JonnieMarbLes/status/878019814056271872 and https://www.byline.com/column/67/article/1746 which look at scripts used by volunteer Tory phone canvassers – but they seem very like some of the scripts used in Neath.

  11.  

    I’ve just noticed the 7 reviews on his Facebook page to date are all between 23 and 26 January. All are 5 stars. Do you recognise any of the names?

    •  

      The top one, Yvonne McGarry has been involved in the same businesses as Sascha, has, and possibly still does, share a house with him, and is quite possibly his mother! I suspect the other 6 are friends, relatives, or acquaintances.

    •  

      Have you got a link?

      •  

        Le Gallois Fou provided the link in his post 24/06/2017 10:27
        For Yvonne McGarry
        Direct Market Solutions Ownership

        Some of the reviewers have Facebook links.

        btw: Your ‘why 10,000 shares’ question.
        If a company is successful and the owners wish to expand, a quick way to raise capital is to sell shares. If on start up the company launches with 10,000 shares, all of which are owned by one person, he/she can sell some of them. Saves the legal requirement of giving official notice of a new issue.

        •  

          As I’ve said in some other comment, “An old friend suggests that the 10,000 shares might be explained with this.” Which might make sense. But if we’re dealing with a leafleting operation then I’m sure he relies to a great extent on casual labour, maybe even paying cash in hand.

          But you still haven’t answered why all previous companies of his were one share per director and all of a sudden we have a company with 10,000 shares.

          •  

            I’m not a mind reader but I guess that Mr Lopez had dreams of his new company expanding like Google did.
            No. Listen. Don’t mock. Mock thee not.
            Look what happened with Group4/G4S a company that could lose remand prisoners in Crown Court detention cells is now a £billion international company thanks, in no small part, to Government contracts.

          •  

            One possible reason is one of the oldest tax scams in the book. Company directors will pay themselves a ‘salary’ which just happens to be slightly below the personal tax allowance (just over £11k at the moment), but will top their income up with share dividends. Share dividends are taxed at a lower rate than earned income (basic rate 10% as opposed to 20%, higher rate 32.5% compared to 40%), so directors can get a pretty hefty income and pay less tax on it. This is currently lawful (although charmless, IMO).

            Perhaps our Mr Lopez has this in mind, in the hope that the shares might gain him some easy dosh?

        •  

          The hyperlink to Yvonne McGarry hasn’t appeared.
          Try: https://www.endole.co.uk/company/05829714/direct-market-solutions-limited
          Click on the Ownership tab.

  12.  

    Your tweet – Cardiff will be the preferred location for new trauma centre because they are worried someone will shove a rocket into Y Cynulliad,and they will need a centre of excellence to deal with all those who spring their ribs laughing !!!.

  13.  

    Now that the discussion on the subject appears to have run as far as it can for the time being, I wish to offer a friendly suggestion: –
    The photo of you as Author on the threads makes your fedora look like a DUP bowler. A resizing of the image might do the trick. Having a new photo of you sporting a Panama and would be an option, but that would spoil the look of sinister intent.

    •  

      Yes, I know what you mean, I don’t know why it has to be a circle. If you suggest re-sizing might make me look less of an Orangeman then I shall give it a try.

      •  

        Orangeman might be preferable to Aelod o’r Gorsedd !

        •  

          You don’t mean that, surely?

          •  

            Partial to dressing up in a frock ? Try becoming a Bishop or something really outrageous !

            •  

              Perfectly acceptable in progressive neo-liberal circles dafis! Next it’ll be non gender specific toilets at the Eisteddfod.

              •  

                does one get issued a personal key if using the transgender loos ? they might be cleaner than the services provided for the common herd which are normally unfit for pigs by late on day 1 !

    •  

      It does change the foreboding/ sinister look a bit doesn’t it? However the ’round’ avatar ‘div’ (programming parlance) is an integral part of the coding for the new ‘comments’ plugin that’s currently being used. Resizing it is not an option unfortunately, as avatar graphics are automatically resized to fit the ‘div’ holder. So it’s Orange Man bowler for Jac for the time being I fear!

  14.  

    You might like to update your post with the outcome of the investigation 😉

    https://iconewsblog.org.uk/2017/10/23/when-political-market-research-crosses-the-line/

Ok, you’ve read what I think, now what do you have to say?