PLEASE APPRECIATE THAT I GET SENT MORE INFORMATION AND LEADS THAN I CAN USE. I TRY TO RESPOND TO EVERYONE WHO CONTACTS ME BUT I CANNOT POSSIBLY USE EVERY BIT OF INFORMATION I’M SENT. DIOLCH YN FAWR
Those who follow soap operas will be familiar with new characters appearing and old favourites being written out. And so it is with this saga that began with Paul and Rowena Williams. For as they (appear to) slip into the wings new figures take to the stage.
As I always say at this stage – and if you have a couple of hours to spare – you might want to catch up with previous instalments: Weep for Wales, Weep for Wales 2, Weep for Wales 3, Weep for Wales 4, Weep for Wales 5, Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7, Weep for Wales 8, Weep for Wales 9, Weep for Wales 10, Weep for Wales 11 and Weep for Wales 11A (section 2).
PREVIOUSLY . . .
We left the story, at Weep for Wales 11A, having just met the latest addition to the cast in the form of Myles Andrew Cunliffe. So how is Myles settling in, and what have we learnt about him?
On 19 February Companies house was notified that Rowena Williams ceased to be a director of Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, the company that, apparently, owns Plas Glynllifon. This leaves Paul Williams and Myles Cunliffe as directors. Though the 10,000 shares are divided equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital Ltd, which is of course Cunliffe’s company.
Gwesty Seiont Manor Ltd is in the process of being struck off. And as I also reported in Weep for Wales 11A, the registered office address for Seiont Manor Hotel Limited – sole director Rikki Reynolds – has moved from Plas Glynllifon to the office of accountant and convicted fraudster John Duggan in Leintwardine, Craven Arms. And now there is a third company using the Seiont Manor name in the form of Seiont Manor Ltd, which has a Manchester address and Cunliffe as sole director.
We also learnt that staff were not being paid at Seiont Manor. And the news spread within the industry to the point where warnings were being posted on social media.
What I may have neglected to mention is that Plas Glynllifon Limited, which owns the mansion and some land around, for which Paul and Rowena Williams ‘paid’ £630,000 in 2016, now has three directors; the gruesome twosome and Cunliffe. The registered office address for this outfit has also moved to the Manchester address used by Cunliffe, but nothing has yet been filed with Companies House to tell us how the shares are allocated.
Also worth noting is that there are no less than eight outstanding charges against Plas Glynllifon Limited, all held by Together Commercial Finance Ltd.
NEW PLOT LINES
You’ll recall that in Weep for Wales 10 I reported on the former member of staff, a disabled man, who’d taken Paul and Rowena Williams to an Industrial Tribunal and been awarded £27,907.42. The details are here.
Well, there’s been another case and this time the award was just under £12,000.
You’ll notice in the report Paul Williams claiming he didn’t turn up in court because he didn’t realise the case was on. The implication being that had he known he would have scampered to the court-house, camped outside overnight, and then exposed this scallywag trying to besmirch his impeccable reputation.
This is pure Paul Williams. Whenever he’s called to an ‘awkward’ interview or meeting he avoids attending with some silly excuse – he’s gone down with Yellow Jack, been trampled by a runaway rhino, abducted by aliens.
The bloke is such a liar he should try his hand at writing. He could be the next Jeffrey Archer.
It should also go without saying that neither of those former employees awarded money will ever see a penny – for on his way to the bank Paul Williams will be ambushed by Jesse James and his gang!
Another piece of important news is that the Administrator’s progress report for Leisure & Development Limited came out last week. Here it is full. Section 1.1.2 says a lot about Paul and Rowena Williams. As does 1.1.7.
While I’m not holding my breath, 1.2 does offer hope that these bastards will get the comeuppance they deserve.
Interesting for its omission was any mention of the eleven million pounds earlier claimed by Paul and Rowena Williams, a sum that made them the biggest creditors. Because, you’ll recall, they said they’d sold Leisure & Development Limited to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge for £11m just before the company went belly-up but never saw the money.
All that’s left of the Williams empire in Gwynedd appears to be poor neglected Fronoleu, near Dolgellau. A Seiont Manor employee still lives in the seven-bedroom house near to the former restaurant, but his dreams of taking over a refurbished Fronoleu – which is what he was promised – have gone up in smoke.
Though maybe I shouldn’t say that, because I’ve had reports of a couple of suspicious fires associated with Paul Williams. One recent report tells of a fire at Plas Glynllifon:
” . . . there was a fire at the Plas on the Saturday before Halloween . . . all the students had left for half term . . . the fire which was in the courtyard at the back of the mansion and . . . that fire would have burnt the whole house down without any doubt . . . it had started in a bin that held aerosols and paint cans . . . I saw a land rover . . . driving . . . right by the fire, he could not have missed it. I presumed he (the driver) would have called the brigade . . . they had not received a call, and when . . . fire brigade arrive the same land rover drove quickly away from the mansion . . . “.
This could be dismissed as an accidental fire witnessed by someone with an over-active imagination, were it not for the timing. For by late October Paul and Rowena Williams knew their canoe was heading not for Goa but Shit Creek.
They were desperate. And that explains why, just a short time after the fire, Myles Andrew Cunliffe appeared on the scene.
Before leaving Gwynedd I should mention an e-mail I received from someone living near Fronoleu. The message said that the writer was distressed at the state of the (even more distressed) building and was prepared to buy it. So could I provide an address for the owners.
All I could tell them was that I had sent my Christmas card (£20 note enclosed) to, ‘Paul and Rowena Williams, c/o Seiont Manor Hotel, etc‘.
Now we’re off to Cornwall, from where I’ve also received a number of interesting reports.
The first suggests that Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge is buying the Garrack Hotel in St Ives and plans to turn it into ‘accommodation’ of some kind. Staff at the Garrack knew nothing of Part(d)ridge until someone did an internet search and came across the Weep for Wales series, now the staff are very worried.
Though the question remains, for whom is Part(d)ridge buying the Garrack? And how unsavoury does the real buyer have to be to use Part(d)ridge as a front man?
Another convicted fraudster who’s done time is Stuart Paul Cooper who leases the Waves Bar from dissolved Leisure & Development Limited. A bit of a lad, Cooper, who likes to threaten people with violence or arson. (Often both.) Even though he runs the bar the drinks licence is obviously not in his name.
The licence was originally held by Rowena Williams, who of course lived a few hundred miles away, so Cornwall County Council put a stop to that and it was transferred to Cooper’s live-in girlfriend Donna Armstrong, or Westmorland, or whatever name she might be using at any given time.
Companies House seem to know her as Armstrong and she was a director of the Waves Bar and Restaurant Limited, a company set up in April 2017 and dissolved in August 2018 without filing anything of note with Companies House. But then, in September 2018, she and co-director Richard Edward Mayfield set up the Waves Restaurant and Bar Limited.
Doesn’t anyone at Companies House think that’s a bit suspicious?
There is a third company, with Anderson as sole director, and this is Waves Resort and Leisure Ltd, Incorporated in September 2018. The other two can be dismissed as shell companies, but this third company has a single £25,000 share, which is intriguing.
(Cooper of course is disqualified from serving as a company director.)
Stuart Paul Cooper, has been imaginatively described to me as a ‘nose hoover’. Rikki Reynolds, who’s been running Seiont Manor, has a similar liking for the white stuff. And that’s not the only similarity, for here’s a story about Reynolds I was sent a while back but agreed to sit on. I’ve now had clearance to use it.
Talking of cocaine and similar substances, it is even suggested that the Waves Bar might be an entrepôt for exotic goods from faraway places landing at Looe.
Before leaving Cornwall, and Looe, I should remind you that there is still Polvellan Manor Ltd which presumably owns the property of the same name. Partdridge is the sole director, but the shares are split equally between him and Paul and Rowena Williams.
Also based at Polvellan Manor is Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd, which the gruesome twosome tried to dissolve last year. The sole director here is the mysterious Michael Jones.
AND THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE CAST
Now let’s turn to the new star of the show, Myles Andrew Cunliffe, who seems to have taken over both Plas Glynllifon and Seiont Manor, though official paperwork is still scarce.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Cunliffe’s early background is in personal finance – maybe even pay-day loans – and second-hand cars, areas where we always encounter men of probity.
As is my wont when looking into the background of someone like Cunliffe I like to draw up a list of the companies with which they’ve been involved. And that’s what I’ve done. Here’s the document in pdf format with the company name acting as a hyper link.
I’m also making the document available in png format. The links don’t work of course but some of you may find it easier to follow. I suggest you keep it open in a different window.
If we look at the document – ordered by date of company formation – we see that the early companies were in the personal finance and second-hand car sector I mentioned. But then, from late in 2011, there’s a switch into property and freight. The two are separated by a black line.
Now let me explain the colouring. The ones shaded in blue are Williams companies that Cunliffe has taken over. The ones at the bottom, in pink, are perhaps replacement companies recently formed by Cunliffe. The ones shaded yellow are companies where Cunliffe’s arrival coincided – almost to the day – with the leaving of Baron Alex Bloom. (Of whom more in a minute.)
The unshaded companies are either dissolved, in the process of being dissolved, or else too new to know much about.
Right, so who is Baron Alex Bloom? An internet search throws up any number of stories about this colourful character, starting here in 2003. But after time in jail this millionaire’s son ‘bounced back’ in 2006. And to bring you up to date here he is in 2018 being accused of dishonesty by a judge during divorce proceedings. ‘Shome mishtake, shurely!’ as Lord Gnome would put it.
I’m not quite sure how this works, but if you check the chronology, you’ll see that Cunliffe very often becomes a director just before a company goes under. He’s almost like a priest called in to administer the last rites.
And that, I strongly suspect, is what’s happening in north Gwynedd. Cunliffe hasn’t been brought in to rescue Paul and Rowena Williams, there’ll be no money invested in Plas Glynllifon or Seiont Manor; he’s there to arrange the exit strategy . . . and perhaps for other purposes.
Which further suggests that if they weren’t already acquainted then Paul and Rowena Williams may have asked around if anybody knew someone prepared to take over the mess they were in.
When you look through the property and freight companies Cunliffe has been involved with you’re immediately struck by the lack of what Woody Guthrie called the ‘Do Re Mi’, the moolah, the greenbacks. More than once I’ve employed the term ‘shell’ to describe these operations. There might be other words.
It’s interesting that the Daily Mail account of the divorce proceedings makes clear that Mrs Bloom comes from a wealthy Russian family. Which means that for a while at least Baron Alex Bloom had links to serious Russian money. Maybe he still has.
Through Etaireia Investments – of which Bloom was and Cunliffe remains a director – we find links with the Oyston family estate. The name Owen Oyston will be familiar to football fans and to readers of Private Eye. This article from the Guardian will give you a flavour of the man.
This is not so much a dramatis personae as a cavalcade of grotesques.
UPDATE 20.03.2018: A cavalcade that has been joined by Jonathon Disley who, I am reliably informed, has stayed at the Seiont Manor more than once recently.
THE BROTHER WE NEVER SEE ON SCREEN?
What I also found intriguing was that among the directors of Goldmann and Sons PLC we find a Neil George Cunliffe, some ten years older than Myles Andrew Cunliffe; I’m assuming they’re either brothers or cousins.
So what do we know of Neil George Cunliffe?
His Linkedin profile takes us back to 1997 when he was a sales director for a timeshare company on Gran Canaria. He still lives in Spain, in Marbella, and is now a Spanish citizen, though his Linkedin profile does not list all the companies with which he’s been involved. I’ll try to fill in the lacunae.
Goldmann and Sons PLC Incorporated 24.07.2015. (‘Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified. Other business support service activities not elsewhere classified’.) Neil Cunliffe was a director from 03.04.2018 to 06.05.2018. Myles Cunliffe was a director from 16.03.2017 to 19.10.2018.
The Vanguard Group Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 12.01.2017. Neil Cunliffe was a director between 04.04.2018 and 28.07.2018. No accounts ever filed with Companies House. This company was dissolved 05.03.2019.
Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital (Spain) Limited (‘Central banking. Banks. Financial intermediation not elsewhere classified’.) Incorporated 14.03.2018, name changed from Goldmann and Sons (Spain) Limited in January 2019. Neil George Cunliffe was first and sole director until 01.08.2018 when he was replaced by Thomas James Ellis. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Vanguard Land Limited (‘Development of building projects’.) Incorporated 17.05.2018. Neil Cunliffe has been one of the two directors since Incorporation. This company was floated with share capital of 1,000,000 £1 shares. Cunliffe holds 499,000 of the shares. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Arden Wealth Limited (‘Management consultancy activities other than financial management’.) Incorporated 12.06.2018. Neil Cunliffe was one of the two founding directors and remains a director. This company was formed with share capital of £5,000,000 divided equally between the two directors. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Kenlife Consulting Limited (Management consultancy activities other than financial management.) Incorporated 29.10.2018. Cunliffe was the founding and sole director and holder of the single £1 share until 04.03.2019 when he was joined by a Dutch resident with an Arab-sounding name and an Omani. No accounts yet filed with Companies House.
Do you see the pattern here? – short-lived companies . . . forming and folding with no paperwork filed . . . people holding directorships for very short periods . . . foreign investors . . . and in the case of Neil George Cunliffe, we have a man in his late forties who suddenly gets involved in the finance business – just a year after his younger brother(?) discovers the lure of finance with Goldmann and Sons PLC. This company being the only time we catch them in the same room together.
In my investigations I unearthed a whole stable of companies carrying the Goldmann label, and all follow the same pattern. They have either been set up very recently, which means it’s too early for accounts, etc, or, if they’re a few years old, then they’ve been dissolved. Either way, we know little or nothing about them.
Here’s a list of the Goldmann companies. You’ll see that a number of them have undergone name changes from Goldmann to Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis.
Unkind souls might jump to conclusions and shout, ‘money laundering!’; but I’m a generous soul who would never be so harsh. I prefer to see these operations as ‘conduits’, facilitating the imaginative moving and ‘filtering’ of assets, so as to spare the over-burdened civil servants of Companies House and HMRC unnecessary work.
Anyone hoping to see Plas Glynllifon become a top class resort hotel, with high-rollers flying in and out of Caernarfon airport; or the Seiont Manor Hotel get mentioned in the Michelin Guide, should wise up and realise that’s not why people buy these properties.
And this doesn’t just apply to the current owners. Or to these properties.
For we have a problem in Wales that I have mentioned before. While we may not have many mansions as grand as Plas Glynllifon we still have thousands of buildings for which there is no viable commercial future, so they get sold on, and between, the kinds of people we’ve looked at in the Weep for Wales series.
(And if it’s not out-and-out crooks then redundant buildings fall into the hands of third sector leeches.)
And it’s so easy.
On the one hand we have a self-styled ‘Welsh Government’, and local authorities – both bereft of ideas – desperately promoting tourism; to the extent that any shyster moving in and buying Neuadd Cwmscwt is hailed as the economic salvation of the area. Not only that – but he/she will very likely receive grants!
Then we have the local media. In the whole saga of Plas Glynllifon under Paul and Rowena Williams the Daily Post published one puff after another. To all intents and purposes the ‘paper was acting as a PR outlet for these crooks. I can imagine the DP editor phoning up Plas Glynllifon on a slow news day and begging, ‘Do you have anything you’d like us to publish for you, Mr Williams – anything!’
There are very few journalists left in Wales. Nobody seems to do background checks and ask the pertinent questions.
Finally, our police forces are overstretched and under-resourced, and no matter what they might suspect, they can do nothing. And anyway, sophisticated crimes like those we’re looking at may be out of their league and their jurisdictions.
With the result that the tourism and hospitality business in Wales has become very attractive to asset-strippers, mortgage fraudsters, money-launderers and other crooks.
We are at the stage now where we, as a country, need to make decisions about grand buildings that serve no purpose, have no future, and fall prey to a succession of shysters who arrive announcing grand plans . . . that never come to anything.
Rather than allowing Wales to become a haven for the afore-mentioned asset-strippers, mortgage fraudsters, money-launderers, etc., it might be best to compulsorily purchase and then demolish places like Plas Glynllifon.
♦ end ♦