Rikki John Reynolds

Aug 062018
 

You knew it was coming, didn’t you! And believe me, I’m not just going through the motions here, there really have been developments. Important developments that we shall discuss in just a minute.

Now I’ll say what I always say at this point – For anyone joining the saga I strongly suggest that you get up to speed with: Weep for WalesWeep for Wales 2Weep for Wales 3Weep for Wales 4Weep for Wales 5Weep for Wales 6, Weep for Wales 7.

GARDEN PARTY

Let’s start on a happy note before moving on to discuss the murky world of Paul and Rowena Williams and their interesting ways of doing business.

For on Sunday July 29 there was a garden party at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne. Everybody was invited and a wonderful time was had by all. Here are some photographs from the event.

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The jolly get-together was called the Pants on Fire Party, an obvious reference to the countless lies told by Paul and Rowena Williams, plus those in their inner circle. In the poster a shifty-looking Keith Partridge says, ‘Psst!! wanna buy a hotel chain? No, how about a hot Bentley?’

To be honest, I wouldn’t buy a lavatory chain from that man.

As I say, a good time was had by all, though Paul and Rowena Williams didn’t turn up . . . which probably explains why everybody had a good time!

DIGGING DEEP

Having some time to myself last week I delved into the history of the oldest of Paul and Rowena Williams’ companies; the one that started life as Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, then became Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, before the name was changed again to Polvellan Manor Ltd in March 2016.

The first question that cropped up was, ‘When the company was formed in July 2002 we have a husband and wife running a country pub, so do they really need a private limited company? But even if they do, does that company need 10,000 £1 shares – why not just two shares?

Going through the accounts submitted for Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd we find a heart-rending tale of losses, year on year, suggesting that the Mortimers Cross Inn was spectacularly unsuccessful . . . or else someone was being ‘imaginative’ with the accounts ‘unaudited financial statement’. Heavily indebted every year the sole asset would appear to be the inn itself, valued in the accounts for y/e 31.07.2003 at £479,938 after depreciation.

Turning to the ‘Abbreviated accounts’ for y/e 31.07.2005 we see that the asset is now gone, which accords with perceived wisdom that says the inn was sold around this time to pubco Punch Taverns.

Though the figures for 2005 suggest other fixed assets somewhere, as ‘additions’, amounting to £118,611, giving a book value of £634,407, which reduced to just £8,250 after the sale.

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The Abbreviated Accounts for y/e 31.07.2006 give the company tangible assets of just £6,187 and it’s heavily in debt. So where’s the money gone from the sale of the assets in y/e 31.07.2005?

I think that question is answered by the fact that Paul and Rowena Williams were now acquiring the properties we are more familiar with, such as the Radnorshire Arms Hotel and the Knighton Hotel. Even so, they had just over half a million pounds to start with and there are no charges (mortgages or loans) listed against their only company. So where did the rest of the money come from?

Debra Yvonne Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister, became a director of Retreats & Leisure Ltd on 14.03.2007, so did she inject some money? For just a short time after this, in November 2007, Oswald, with her husband and her and Paul Williams’ parents, formed a company in Goa. Where the family still have a hotel, and where Williams père lives.

Whatever the answer, acquisitions there certainly were, for the company address was changed to the Radnorshire Arms Hotel on July 24, 2009, and the ‘Financial Statements’ for 2010 were lodged from the Knighton Hotel. Yet we don’t see these properties appearing in documentation until the ‘Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts’ for y/e 31.07.2010 when tangible assets are £863,016, up from £203,00 the following year.

Though the company remains a loser. On a turnover of £322,788 up to July 31, 2010 Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd lost £152,421. One factor being a large loan from Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Ltd, with £155,667 falling due in 2010, though this was down from £209,625 the previous year.

This loan, plus the money received from the sale of the Mortimers Cross Inn, would still not be enough to pay for the ten properties bought in this period, even if most were bought from receivers or at auction, so I ask again, where did the rest of the money come from?

The last ‘Abbreviated (Unaudited) Accounts’ for Retreats & Leisure Ltd before the new companies were set up was for y/e 31.07.2014. They tell us that the ‘total tangible assets’ – the combined worth of the Williams property empire – amounted to just £1,802,623.

Yet in August 2015 the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was bought by the new Williams company Leisure & Development Ltd for £3,487,049. The same company bought the Bird in Hand for £1,279,204. Salutation Inn for £1,049,076. Castle Inn for £1,269,720. The Knighton Hotel for £2,881,599. The Courtyard for £1,920,780. 

Those figures come to a total of £11,887,428. And there are other properties they bought from themselves for which I don’t have the prices. Of course, the problem with buying from yourself is that it’s not real money, you aren’t making anything. That comes from the mortgages and loans you can raise against properties given absurd valuations.

(Though given who’re dealing with we should remember that paying over the odds is a good way of getting rid of money you might have difficulty accounting for.)

Something else I did to while away the time was draw up a list of the companies Paul and Rowena Williams have been involved with. Here’s the table I compiled, and it’s here in pdf format with the company number linking with its Companies House website page.

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THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

Last week was a busy week. It started on Monday when I popped over to Presteigne and Knighton for a mooch around. (I enjoy a good mooch.) The Knighton Hotel and the Radnorshire Arms look what they are – abandoned, neglected and deteriorating.

Next, I received a flurry of e-mails from Companies House telling me of activity with Williams companies. All dated 10 July but recorded at Companies House July 30.

First, was notification that a new charge had been attached to Rural Retreats & Development Ltd. This charge seems to be Together Commercial Finance Ltd securing its claim on 15 properties (see page 15).

The second charge concerned Leisure & Development Ltd. This appears to be Together Commercial Finance Ltd laying claim to a further seven properties. (See page 14)

Third and fourth were two charges against Plas Glynllifon Ltd. Both are against “all the property or undertaking of the company”.

All of which suggests that Together Commercial Finance Ltd may have come to the end of its tether with Paul and Rowena Williams; concluded it’s not going to see its money repaid, and so is tying down property in lieu of the money it’s owed.

The National Westminster Bank seems to have come to the same conclusion, for it pulled the plug on Leisure & Development Ltd last Thursday, obviously concerned about the money it had loaned in 2015. Locks were changed and CCTV cameras installed on a number of properties, including the Radnorshire Arms where locals had so recently enjoyed the the garden party.

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And yet, there are still questions.

Just a few months ago, when Paul and Rowena Williams were spinning the line about Keith Partridge taking over their hotels and other businesses, they told staff it was being done through his buy-out – for £10m – of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd. Read the letters here.

We now know that the ‘buy-out’ was a fairy tale, and we also know that RRL UK Ltd owns nothing. Which I suppose explains why NatWest is unlikely to pursue the charge it has against this company.

So it appears that both lenders have all options covered and we’re approaching endgame. But I’m convinced that a crook and a liar as ruthless and cunning as Paul Williams still has something up his sleeve.

For as locals in Presteigne and Knighton know, just a day before the case was heard in that Birmingham court Paul Williams visited his properties with some men in a white van, and loaded up all sorts of stuff, even fire extinguishers! They appeared to be genuine – the guys in the van, I mean! – and even gave out a business card, which said they were working for Worcester Pubkit.

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Even more bizarrely, at around 3am, just hours before Aztec Asset Assured turned up to change the locks, the alarm at the Radnorshire Arms went off, sounding very briefly before someone pressed the right buttons. Who could that have been, boys and girls, creeping around in the middle of the night?

The Williams Gang is now reduced to its holdings in Gwynedd and Cornwall, which I find rather disturbing for a couple of reasons. One, being pushed back into the western extremities of Britain carries uncomfortable historical resonance, and two, I live in Gwynedd, and so I’m wondering if these crooks are getting any of my money.

Gwynedd is represented by the Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd, while Cernyw comes in the form of Polvellan Manor Ltd. The sole director of the former is Rikki John Reynolds, while his counterpart in Cornwall is Keith Harvey Partridge.

The only reason these companies are still standing is that there are no charges against them. Or should I say, no charges directly against them. But Seiont Manor is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd and as we’ve seen, Together seems to have that base covered.

Which leaves just Polvellan Manor Ltd, which as you read earlier started life as Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd in 2002. According to the company’s latest ‘Unaudited Financial Statement’ – produced by our old friend John Duggan – the turnover for y/e 31.07.2017 was zero.

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That’s zero, as in zilch, nothing, sod all.

But we must introduce the caveat that Mr Duggan does have trouble with figures, to such an extent that he was sent away for a few years to brush up on his accountancy skills. So for all we know, the Polvellan Manor could be raking it . . . high rollers jetting in to the private airfield, top-class cabaret, 50 quid for a shot of Old MacDonald’s single malt . . .

What a twosome – Partridge and Duggan. What could possibly go wrong?

Yes, last week was a good news week, and I’m looking forward to more good news in the not-too-distant future. The fat lady’s not ready to sing just yet, but I feel she’s in her dressing room applying make-up. For the curtain has gone up on the opening scene of the final act.

For you insomniacs out there, here’s some reading matter in the form of the latest version of the information sheet on the gang. Anyone able to suggest amendments or additions is welcome to contact me.

UPDATE 07.08.2018: After making further enquiries I now know that the process which resulted in Leisure & Development Ltd being placed In Administration was initiated by the directors. Which is where it gets interesting, for the two directors are Sukhbinder Singh Heer and Keith Harvey Partdridge (sic). Paul Steven Williams was a director until 21 July 2018.

Also on 21 July, one day after the meeting at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel between Paul and Rowena Williams and Powys County Council and the ‘Welsh’ Government, all 10,000 shares in the company were transferred from Plas Glynllifon Ltd to Keith Harvey Partridge. Though you have to ask why the shares were held by Plas Glynllifon Ltd when Part(d)ridge is supposed to have taken over the company on 1 February.

Whoever the directors are, the charges against this company remain. And I’m assured that once the move was made to, essentially, wind up the company, the creditors – National Westminster Bank Ltd and Together Commercial Finance Ltd – were informed.

As I say, the fat lady is still in her dressing room.

♦ end ♦

P.S. For all of you who’ve sent me information and anecdotes about the gang, particularly Paul Williams, please understand that I can’t use everything. Though I am considering a piece devoted solely to these horror stories.

 

Jun 192018
 

TO RECAP . . .

This is in the form of an update, following further information, doing a bit more research, and generally just thinking about what we’re dealing with. If you haven’t read the original piece I suggest you do so now, it’ll help you make sense of this offering.

The big picture – so we’re told – is that on 1 February Paul Steven Williams and his wife Rowena Claire Williams sold off their assets in Powys, Herefordshire, Cornwall and God knows where else to focus on the properties they’d acquired around Caernarfon.

Among those assets was the Radnorshire Arms Hotel in Presteigne, bought in August 2015 for £3,487,049.

The vendor was Rowena Claire Williams and the buyer was Leisure and Development Ltd, a company she’d set up with her husband just a few months earlier. In effect, they’d ‘bought’ a property they already owned at what most agree was a greatly inflated price.

Which posits the obvious question: who did the valuation?

But it wasn’t just the Radnorshire Arms that was sold/bought.

There was also the Knighton Hotel, in the town of that name. (Though formerly known as The Norton Hotel.) The title document tells us that this was sold for £2,881,599, which would seem to be a fair price for a substantial hotel (everything apart from the ground floor on the extreme right of the picture below).

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The problem, as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, is that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned the building, and so once again they ‘sold’ it to themselves in the form of Leisure and Development Ltd.

The third example is the Castle Inn in Wigmore, near Leominster. (Formerly known as The Compasses.) Here again, the title document tells us that the transaction was done “between (1) Paul Steven Williams and Rowena Claire Williams and (2) Leisure & Development Limited”. And the sum mentioned is £1,269,720.

As with the other ‘purchases’, money came from the NatWest Bank. The same pattern and chronology as with the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, the Knighton Hotel, and other properties. Also, two changes of name during the ownership of Paul and Rowena Williams.

It seems to me that the purchasing of the Williamses’ property portfolio in 2015 boils down to three possibilities:

1/ Transferring property from themselves to their company, yet pretending they’d bought it from a third party and taking out mortgages or loans to purchase the property, is perfectly legitimate.

2/ What they did amounts to mortgage fraud. In which case the lenders must be informed. Though if this is the case, why wasn’t it noticed by Paul and Rowena Williams’ solicitors who dealt with these non-sales, Beaumonts Solicitors of Hereford?

3/ If these non-sales were illegal, and everyone involved knew they were illegal, then we’re dealing with a major crime.

ENTER KEITH HARVEY PARTRIDGE, THE MONEY MAN

To believe the Williamses – or Rowena Williams, who often does the talking for them both – all these assets bought in 2015 were sold on 1 February 2018 for approximately £10 million pounds to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Partridge. But were they really sold?

It’s an important question because Partridge (or ‘Partdridge’) certainly became the “Person with Significant Control” over Leisure and Development Ltd on 1 February. Then on 22 April he was introduced to the staff at the Radnorshire Arms as the new owner and told them that their hotel, and others, would be closed for 8 – 10 weeks for refurbishment and ‘re-branding’. After which they’d be able to apply for their old jobs.

Now if it’s true that Partridge became the owner of these properties on 1 February then the loans or second mortgages taken out with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle after that date are his.

But of course there is an alternative interpretation, which might run thus . . . Needing to raise more money, but knowing they’ll experience difficulty raising it themselves, Paul and Rowena Williams go through the charade of ‘selling’ their property empire to Partridge.

Partridge approaches Together Commercial Finance, saying, ‘I need loans to buy all these properties from Paul and Rowena Williams’. The lender sits him down, pours him a drink, and says, ‘Delighted to help, Mr Partridge – how much do you want?’, then hands over the lolly. Partridge takes his cut, plays his role as the new owner, and everybody’s happy . . . except of course the dozens of people who’ve just lost their jobs.

In an attempt to give substance to this charade paperwork is submitted to Companies House saying that Partridge is now the head honcho. But as yet, nothing has been filed with the Land Registry to tell us that ownership of the properties allegedly sold to him have actually been transferred to Keith Harvey Partridge.

Though it might also be worth mentioning that Paul and Rowena Williams were themselves dealing with Together Commercial Finance before Partridge – apparently – appeared on the scene. This report about Plas Glynllifon from the Daily Post of 22 February 2017 tells us, “They . . . have agreed a finance package with Together in Manchester. They are also in talks with the Welsh Government about grant support.”

This “finance package” was presumably for Plas Glynllifon. But surely they didn’t need it after Partridge came to the rescue with his £10m buyout?

Or am I wrong for thinking that more money has been raised by various means – much more – than has or will ever be spent on Plas Glynllifon and the other projects. 

Incidentally, Rowena Williams insists that she hardly knows Partridge, having met him just once. Yet I am reliably informed that he stayed at the Radnorshire Arms a number of times when they were running it. I’m also told that female staff found him “unpleasant”.

INTRODUCING RIKKI, THE RUGBY FAN. BLESS!

Another reason I have my doubts about Partridge’s real role is due to the situation at Seiont Manor. We know it’s owned by Paul and Rowena Williams yet the entry on the Companies House website tells us that the sole director for Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd is Rikki John Reynolds. Sole director usually indicates owner, but not in this case.

Rikki John Reynolds – erstwhile manager at the Chang Thai Bar and Restaurant in Ludlow – is simply fronting for Paul and Rowena Williams. It could well be the same with Partridge. It begins to remind me of the wonderful ‘buffers’ scene from the Godfather.

Rikki John Reynolds, click to enlarge

Staying with Rikki John Reynolds for a minute, I received an interesting comment to my previous post, and the comment read:

“Myself and 2 other night porters were laid off by Paul and rowena on purchasing Seiont Manor hotel. When I spoke with one director he Rikki Reynolds said our jobs are safe days later we got our marching orders.
May I also add there does seem to be a massive amount of directors in the company. Every manager was pushed to be directors. I belive you don’t pay as much tax to directors. I can confirm the kitchen porter who has disabilities was unfairly dismissed. Meetings were had with him by Rrl telling him what he should do. Manipulating him!
The maintenance manager was fired because he took a authorised holiday.
They also started knocking down walls in a grade 2 listed building which was occupied by some very rare bats prior to planning consent in the grounds of Seiont Manor
That’s just for starters….”

The bit about “Every manager was pushed to be directors” might not only explain Reynolds’ position at Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd but also chimes with something else I was told about employees of Paul and Rowena Williams being registered with Companies House as directors without their knowledge. This perhaps explains the lengthy list of directors at Leisure and Development Ltd in the company’s short life.

I’m fairly sure it’s illegal to register someone as a director with Companies House without their consent.

Quite a number of these directors at Leisure and Development have their address at the Knighton Hotel, including a Frenchman and a Romanian. No less than ten of the directors ‘resigned’ on 1 February 2018 (including Rowena Claire Williams and Plas Glynllifon Ltd), the same day Partridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer became directors, making up a trio with Paul Steven Williams.

Which throws up another curiosity. We are asked to believe that on 1 February Paul and Rowena Williams sold Leisure and Development Ltd and the properties the company owned to Keith Partridge, so why is Paul Williams still a director of a company we’re told he’s sold?

And who is the latest addition to the board, Sukhbinder Singh Heer, and how does he fit into the picture? Answers on the proverbial post card please.

I know Heer was a non-executive director at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust. Interestingly, perhaps, Rowena Williams was involved with Age Concern Birmingham, and Partridge has also dabbled in that market with Coast to Coast Care Ltd.

THE MANCHESTER DIGRESSION

One thing that struck me as I trawled through news reports and official documents was that Manchester kept cropping up.

For example, the loans or mortgages that Paul and Rowena Williams took out to buy the properties in 2015 were with the NatWest Bank plc at Hardman Boulevard in central Manchester. The loans or second mortgages taken out in 2017 and 2018 were with Together Commercial Finance Ltd of Cheadle.

This report from the Daily Post of August 2015 tells us that the sale of Glynllifon was being handled by “David Currie of David Currie and Co”. I couldn’t find a company of that name, but I did find a David Currie listed with Winterhill Largo Property Ltd. The liquidation process for this company started soon after the report I’ve linked to. The liquidators were based at 3 Hardman Street in Manchester, just the other side of Hardman Square from Hardman Boulevard, where we found NatWest.

Currie has had a number of property companies. There’s Broad Tree Management Ltd, which has interesting paperwork attached to it. Then there’s David Currie Ltd, which is dormant. Next there’s D. Currie Consultancy Ltd, which is at least alive, but barely. There are also others that have fallen by the wayside.

How did this real-life Ol’ Gil (from the Simpsons) get the Glynllifon gig? This report from the Daily Post dated 10 June 2016 mentions “agent Lambert Smith Hampton”, which I know is a major company, but it too has an office in Manchester . . . in fact, at 3 Hardman Street, the same building as the liquidators for David Currie’s company Winterhill Largo Property Ltd.

And then of course we have the report I linked to earlier, telling us that Williams was dealing with Together Commercial Finance in February 2017, making it reasonable to assume that these negotiations started in 2016. But did he find them, or did they find him?

I mention these Manchester connections because people in the same line of work, or linked industries, often know each other. I can imagine the word spreading in the city’s finance-property sector about a ‘big mansion in North Wales’ and the desperate need to find and fund a buyer – any buyer!

Perhaps the desperation was due to recent bad publicity over the ‘Wynnborn’ bollocks leading to official and governmental bodies ready to accept any buyer, with few questions asked.

NEWS FROM THE FRONT (AND THE BACK)

We are now asked to believe that Paul and Rowena Williams have moved to Caernarfon and are devoting all their energies and talents to their acquisitions in that area. The truth may be rather different.

To begin with, they have an exclusive residence just over the border from Powys. Two children attend a private (day) school in Hereford. They maintain a flat at the Knighton Hotel, and are regular visitors to the properties they’ve ‘sold’ to Partridge, often seen taking yet more stuff away. Rowena Williams was at the Radnorshire Arms yesterday loading stuff into her car.

This, remember, is a property she and hubby are supposed to have sold over four months ago!

Talking of which, I’m told that when Paul Williams was complimented on the antiques and collectibles he’s piled up at Glynllifon, he explained that he has “agents all over the world” looking out for interesting pieces for him.

Can’t you see it! a global network of antiques experts working for Paul Williams; Paris, New York, Milan, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Cairo, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Shanghai . . . . Oh, yes, that must be the explanation.

The beer garden at the Radnorshire Arms, will it ever see customers again? Click to enlarge

Now I hear that a petition is being circulated, and enthusiastically signed, by residents of Presteigne and other communities, demanding that politicians and others find out what the hell is happening to all the properties once owned by Paul and Rowena Williams, properties that were ostensibly sold to Keith Harvey Partridge, properties that were supposedly closed for refurbishment on 16 April for 8 – 10 weeks but ain’t seen hide nor hair of any workman to carry out the promised refurbishment.

It’s almost as if, once the buildings have been milked for the money, they become surplus to requirements.

And yet, the irony must be that it was the closure of the hotels, and their treatment of the staff, that drew attention to Paul and Rowena Williams, Partridge and the rest of the gang. It’s certainly why I got involved. If they’d just kept the hotels open they might have got away with it.

There’s a lesson there for all of us . . . especially those perpetrating mortgage fraud and property scams.

∼ 

WHERE’S OUR MONEY?

One reason for asking that question is that Williams has told people in Caernarfon that he now owns four hotels in the area but plans to soon have eight. Lucky Caernarfon!

Also, I know that the Radnorshire Arms and the Knighton Hotel have received six-figure sums from the ‘Welsh’ Government, hundreds of thousands of pounds has been suggested. Now they lie empty and derelict, the staff laid off and the small communities in which they sit suffering as a result.

And what of Cyngor Gwynedd? Is it reasonable to assume that after the ‘Wynnborn’ fiasco they were so glad to find another buyer that they went along with Paul Williams without checking on what sort of a character he was? A few seconds Googling would have turned this up.

Come to that, who actually owns Plas Glynllifon, because I can find nothing on the Land Registry website. I’m told that the ownership is ‘complicated’, but surely it’s not a state secret. Have the Williamses really bought it?

The callous behaviour of this gang has has already affected the lives of dozens of people and damaged communities. To help those they claim to represent the ‘Welsh’ Government, Cyngor Gwynedd, Powys council, and other public bodies, must recover all public money given to this gang and, if possible, find buyers who will re-open the Radnorshire Arms and the other establishments.

But a start must be made today, by henceforth adhering to Uncle Jac’s Golden Rule – Not a penny more!

Then we need explanations for why things were allowed to go so far. A little openness and honesty is required, even if it does cause embarrassment in official circles. And if, as so many believe, criminal offences have been committed, then legal action must begin.

This can also start today.

♦ end ♦