Weep for Wales 13

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

LET’S RECAP . . .

I suppose the obvious place to start is with an update, or perhaps a brief résumé for those new to the saga. This approach will also help me ease back into the saddle.

Paul and Rowena Williams are an unsavoury couple who, by various means, built up a portfolio of hotels and pubs in Wales, England, and Cornwall. In 2015 they formed a company, Leisure & Development Ltd, that ‘bought’ properties they already owned at greatly inflated prices.

Paul and Rowena Williams. Click to enlarge

Obviously, no money changed hands but thanks to the grotesque over-valuations mortgages were secured against these fictitious purchases. This of course was classic mortgage fraud.

Though lenders would have required valuations, and I have always suspected that these were provided by Dudley Cross of Lambert Smith Hampton. Cross had worked with the Gruesome Twosome for years, he even served as a director of Leisure & Development Ltd until the whole shooting match was allegedly ‘taken over’ in February 2018 by convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge.

The valuations were done in 2015, Cross joined the company in 2016.

Click to enlarge

UPDATE

A while back I drew up a list of the companies with which Paul and Rowena Williams were involved. You can see it below, and here’s the pdf version, with working links to the Companies House entries.

Now for the latest news, working down the list from the top . . .

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There are moves by Companies House to strike off Polvellan Manor Ltd, the two-month notice dated 2 July. The last document filed was micro company accounts in April last year, showing a loss of  £1,033.

You’ll notice one charge against this company in favour of Debra Oswald, who is Paul Williams’ sister. To help you understand the chicanery behind this ‘loan’ I urge you to read this document sent me by someone who’d had dealings with Paul Williams in Cornwall.

The document is quite long, but it explains so clearly how Paul Williams operates.

UPDATE 18.09.2019: Polvellan Manor Ltd was dissolved via compulsory strike-off (by Companies House) on 17 September 2019.

As reported, Rural Retreats & Development Ltd now has Myles Cunliffe and Paul Williams as directors with Cunliffe’s company Mylo Capital Ltd having ‘significant control’. The company address has moved from Plas Glynllifon to the second floor of 9 Portland Street in central Manchester. An address where we’ll find a number of Cunliffe companies.

There are seven outstanding charges with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

Leisure & Development Ltd was the main company for the Williams’ property empire and as I’ve mentioned this was supposedly bought on 1 February 2018 for £11m by Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge and Sukhbinder Singh Heer. As previously reported in this series, this company is now in administration.

There are twelve outstanding charges, nine with National Westminster Bank Ltd and three with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

Leisure & Development Ltd Licensed LLP went belly-up in July 2016.

There were moves to voluntarily strike off Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd in the middle of last year but it struggled on with Michael Jones at the helm. Jones was lost overboard on 31 July, which leaves this Mary Celeste of a company adrift.

A company with no nominated director is not a legally constituted company, so this irregularity has been referred to Companies House.

There is one outstanding charge with National Westminster Bank Ltd.

Next up is Plas Glynllifon Ltd, where we find the Williams duo and Cunliffe listed as directors. With shares split equally between Rowena Williams and Mylo Capital. Despite the name, the company’s address is now on the second floor of the Manchester building I mentioned earlier.

More importantly, perhaps, Companies House has given notice that Plas Glynllifon Ltd risks being struck off in mid-October. This of course may be the desired outcome, because . . .

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There are eight outstanding charges, all with Together Commercial Finance Ltd.

Gwesty Seiont Manor Ltd was dissolved in May.

Finally, we have the Seiont Manor Hotel Ltd, which might now be dissolved, seeing as Companies House issued the notice on 25 June.

All of which suggests that the Williams portfolio is now reduced to Rural Retreats & Development Ltd. Though with nothing filed with Companies House since February, and seven outstanding charges, the future of this survivor must also be in question.

UPDATE 2

Which takes the form of a quick roundup of changes I’ve been informed of in recent months. A few snippets from hither and yon.

Rikki Reynolds, right-hand man to Paul and Rowena Williams, said to know where the bodies are buried (metaphorically speaking), and who was running the Seiont Manor hotel, was sacked in March(?), presumably by Cunliffe. 

He is believed to be writing his memoirs.

On April 3 new company Seiont Manor Ltd, sole director Myles Cunliffe, transferred its address from Manchester to the hotel of the company’s name.

On July 8 North Wales Live reported Myles Cunliffe saying, ‘they were in the final stages of selling the site after coming to the conclusion they are not able to complete the redevelopment. He said: “At the mansion (Plas Glynllifon) it has not been feasible to take the site forward, we have not been able to realise Paul’s dream for the site and need a hotelier now to take the site to the next level.’

Pure bullshit. There’s more chance of sighting Lord Lucan riding Shergar through the grounds than there is of finding a ‘hotelier’ to take over a vast and cripplingly expensive to maintain building in the wrong location.

Plas Glynllifon. Click to enlarge

According to the administrator’s progress report on Leisure & Development Ltd, dated August 9, here is the state of play with the various properties:

  • The Knighton Hotel went to auction May 9, but failed to reach its reserve price.
  • The Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne is also unsold but there is interest.
  • The Bird in Hand (Ironbridge, Salop) continued trading, contracts being drawn up. So by the time you read this it might have been sold.
  • The Castle Inn and caravan park (Wigmore, Herefordshire) has been sold.
  • The Salutation Inn and caravan park (Berwick-upon-Tweed) sold for £215,000.
  • The Waves Bar and Resort (Seaton, Cornwall) sold in April for £501,000.

It seems the administrator might be stuck with the Knighton Hotel. A large establishment – made up of two separate buildings – with the sale complicated perhaps by the Williams duo still owning parts of the whole, certainly the former retail unit at ground floor extreme right.

Knighton Hotel. Click to enlarge

Going back to the administrator’s progress report, I found Appendix B interesting for it lists the creditors, something we’ll look at in a minute.

In the Notice of administrator’s proposals, dated 10 September 2018, we read that the six properties we’ve just looked at were valued at £11,887,828, according to documents lodged with the Land Registry.

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So in 2015 Paul and Rowena Williams claimed to have paid £11,887,828 for those six properties, three of which have now been sold for perhaps just one million pounds. The largest, the Knighton Hotel, failed to reach its reserve price of £350,000 at auction.

As a matter of interest, according to the Land Registry document, Paul and Rowena Williams ‘paid’ £2,881,599 for the Knighton Hotel in 2015.

The most the administrator will make from the sale of all six properties is maybe £2m. Yet as you can see in the table below, taken from the same administrator’s report, NatWest is owed £6.2m on those properties. How is this possible?

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It’s explained by Paul and Rowena Williams inflating the valuations to gain mortgages, in line with the example of the Knighton Hotel. And remember, they already owned all six of the properties, so they paid nothing!

With the £6.2m figure accounted for by perhaps 50% mortgages on inflated ‘purchase’ prices plus interest.

Clearly, NatWest will be lucky to see a third of what it’s owed by Leisure & Development Ltd. Or less, after the administrator and others take their cut.

And spare a thought for the ‘Unsecured creditors’, owed £306,961.36. These will be suppliers, local tradesmen, staff, and others who really can’t afford to lose money, but these poor buggers won’t see a penny.

Moving on . . .

MYLES CUNLIFFE AND FRIENDS

To believe the Daily Post, when Paul and Rowena Williams were at their lowest ebb a knight in shining armour came galloping in to rescue them. Under the gleaming armour was the manly physique of ‘finance guy’ Myles Andrew Cunliffe.

I always had doubts about Cunliffe, who was after all a small-time operator, offering finance on second-hand cars – why the sudden jump to stately homes? I touched on the answer in an update to Weep for Wales 12, in which I mentioned Jonathan Disley, ‘the King of Marbella’.

The link might be Neil George Cunliffe, who lives in Marbella. The two Cunliffes are from the same area and it’s reasonable to assume they’re related. And I find it difficult to believe that Neil Cunliffe, living in Marbella, does not know ‘the King’.

More recently, it seems Disley has been looking for investment opportunities back in Blighty, maybe Brexit has prompted this return. If so, this might be ironic, as I’ll explain in a minute.

Among the investment opportunities being considered was Blackpool football club. For it was being reported last year that Disley was in negotiations with Owen Oyston, the unpopular owner, to buy him and his family out. Also seen with Oyston in the directors’ box at Blackpool were Myles Cunliffe and Dennis Rogers.

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So who is Dennis Rogers? Well, as you might have guessed, he’s another ‘businessman’, one who’s been involved in quite a few companies with Cunliffe. Companies such as Etaireia Investments PLC (both resigned as directors 27 March, 2019), Get Me Finance Ltd, Mylo Capital Ltd and Goldmann PLC (formerly Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital PLC), which they both joined as directors 11 December 2018.

In fact, Rogers is quite an interesting character for a number of reasons. Earlier this month he was announced as the Brexit Party candidate for Warrington South . . . and then, two weeks later, he wasn’t. The story behind this abrupt change takes us to the heart of the possible Brexit connection.

Some trouble-making local checked Rogers out on the Companies House website and found that he had an Isle of Man address. Perhaps this one. Obviously there were some objections to this Manx resident standing for Warrington.

Though if you look at the address given for the company you’ll see that it’s in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, where Rogers lives. That confusion is not clever.

But now it gets really funny, so stick with it . . .

After working as a Strategic Business Advisor for the IoM government Rogers kept up the pretence of Manx residency. But then, the fuss over his candidacy, and questions as to where he lived, and whether he paid tax, alerted HMRC, who I’m told are now making enquiries.

Though his IoM connections get even more interesting when I tell you that Rogers was a nominee director of Rock Holdings Ltd. And if Rock Holdings rings a bell then it might be because it’s the company that many allege Arron Banks used to channel money into the 2016 Leave campaign.

“A nominee director is a director appointed to the board of a company to represent the interests of his appointor on that board. He may be appointed by a shareholder, a creditor or another stakeholder”. So who appointed Dennis Rogers?

The Banks connection is spelled out in this report from Manx Radio from just a week ago: “Earlier this year, the Manx businessman (Rogers) was named as a nominee director for Rock Holdings Limited, a company which forms part of Arron Banks’ insurance empire.”

I bet you’re glad you stuck with it!

Going back to Goldmann PLC, we see that the secretary is Sean Colin Hornby. Hornby was a Labour councillor in Bolton until some misunderstanding over unlicensed taxis led to him standing as an Independent before he joined Ukip. Despite the rise of the Brexit Party Hornby stuck with Ukip and his loyalty was rewarded with re-election in May.

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ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER

The bottom line is that Cunliffe and Rogers work for Disley or, as it was put to me, they’re his front men. They are, effectively, employees.

It is further suggested that Goldmann PLC is Disley’s company. Rogers was removed as a director on August 16 due to the attention he was attracting from HMRC and possibly other agencies.

Something else that may be connected with the unwanted attention is that until 19 August Goldmann Ltd was known as Cunliffe Rogers and Ellis Capital PLC. I’m told that ‘Ellis’ is Tom Ellis, Disley’s son-in-law.

Obviously we are dealing here with ‘colourful’ and unorthodox businessmen, where what you see ain’t always what you get. The sort of people I write about all the time. Too often, in fact, because Wales attracts so many such chancers.

Which is why I find the Brexit angle, and the possibility it throws up, a welcome diversion. Let me explain.

Earlier I provided an IoM link for Dennis Rogers. The company was National and Commercial Extwistle Ltd, with Rogers giving his address as the Trafalgar pub on the South Quay in Douglas.

In the image below, the Trafalgar pub is the white building on the left, and the redbrick building behind the pub is what I suspect are the old offices of Manx Gas, with the company’s new office building on the right. The old building is now called Murdoch Chambers.

Image courtesy of Google. Click to enlarge

Why am I telling you this?

Because in this report – and I can recall watching it on Newsnight – John Sweeney locates Rock Holdings’ (the Banks’ company we looked at just now) address to Murdoch Chambers. The report says:

“At the time of the referendum, Rock Holdings’ address had been registered at Murdoch Chambers, South Quay, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Newsnight visited the island this week and its first stop was to Murdoch Chambers, which now appears to be an accommodation address, facing a gas showroom overspill car park. The door was locked and no-one answered.”

I know the Isle of Man isn’t that big, and Douglas is a fairly small town by mainland standards, but even so, Banks and Rogers being neighbours strikes me as one hell of a coincidence.

Another company I found giving the Trafalgar pub as its address was The Bullion People Ltd. Secretary and sole director Jodie Rogers. This company was Incorporated 4 September 2012, filed nothing, and was dissolved 13 May 2014.

A further company registered in a pub that called time for the last time in February 2010 was The Cash Point Ltd. Same pattern, single share held by secretary and sole director Jodie Rogers. Incorporated 6 September 2012, nothing filed, dissolved 6 May 2014.

And it’s the same with the Dennis Rogers’ company. He served as secretary and sole director, the company was set up 2 February 2017, filed nowt, and dissolved 10 July 2018.

But back to Jodie . . . who I assumed was either the daughter born when Dennis Rogers was a twenty-year-old stripling, or his much younger wife.

Dennis and Jodie turn up together in other companies, but in some older entries she’s Miss/Ms Jodie Lee, which suggests they tied the knot. Let’s look at a few of these companies.

There was the Gold and Silver Exchange Ltd and Cash For You (UK) Ltd. Both short-lived and with no accounts published. Then there’s Collateral Business Centre Ltd. (Originally Goldmann and Sons Ltd). Incorporated 6 June 2013, filed only accounts for a dormant company, dissolved 27 December 2016.

Among the directors of Collateral Business Centre was Peter Currie. Check out the companies he’s been involved with, and see how many of them have been dissolved or liquidated after a similarly short existence.

We looked at companies in the Trafalgar with ‘cash’ and ‘bullion’ in their names. Now we can add, ‘gold and silver’, ‘lending’, ‘finance’, ‘currency’, ‘money’, ‘capital’, ‘cash’, and even ‘pawn’.

Companies that are clearly involved in moving money or trading in precious metals, but they don’t seem to do any business, they never submit accounts, and they go out of business very quickly before there’s too much tedious paperwork cluttering up their palatial offices.

There may be an honest explanation for businesses like this. Though if so, then I’m still waiting to hear it.

CONCLUSION

We started with a couple of shysters and their hangers-on, and it was fairly easy to spot mortgage fraud. I now hear that Paul and Rowena Williams have been offered a very decent sum to hand over Plas Glynllifon, the Seiont Manor, Fronoleu (near Dolgellau), and Polvellan House in Kernow.

Fronoleu. Click to enlarge

We can but guess at the use to which these buildings will be put. But they are unlikely to be renovated. For now we seem to have moved into a different realm. Not only in terms of scale, and opacity, but also thanks to the possible political dimension.

Over the years I’ve copped a lot of criticism, I’ve had many critics, even threats. But it all seemed to ratchet up when I first mentioned Cunliffe, Rogers and Disley. Was it because they were afraid of their business dealings being exposed, or was it due to the Brexit connection?

The usual Remainer theory is that the Leave campaign was funded from the Kremlin, a tactic in Russia’s ongoing attempts to destabilise the West. But I think my old mucker Vladimir Vladimirovich gets a bad press – where’s the evidence he was slipping brown envelopes to Arron Banks or anyone else?

There is no evidence of the money coming from Russia. That £8.4m that Arron Banks can’t account for could just as easily have been found down the back of a Spanish sun lounger.

The links are there for all to see. Or maybe the key lies in the answer to a single question: Who insisted that Arron Banks make Dennis Rogers a nominee director of Rock Holdings, the alleged conduit for the money that might have swung the 2016 referendum?

♦ end ♦

P.S. A message to those who keep sending me letters and generally having unkind thoughts about me. I really don’t care what you get up to in Spain, or England, or the Isle of Man, or Timbuktu, but once you cross the border into my country I will take an interest. Because it’s my country, I love it, and I will protect it from people like you.

The message should be obvious: if you don’t want me to write about you – stay out of Wales.

 

Weep for Wales 12

EXPLANATION: This post was originally put up on March 18 and taken down after I received a hand-delivered letter after dark on March 26. Having now given the matter considerable thought I have reinstated this posting and will continue with the Weep for Wales series.

A short explanation was posted in place of Weep for Wales 12, which garnered the comments you’ll see prior to the reposting on August 25.

It was taken down for a second time after another threatening letter from Myles Andrew Cunliffe on August 28, and reposted after a minor revision.

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 of a larger post).

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.

Click to enlarge

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 scalawag trying to besmirch his impeccable reputation.

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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.

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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.

Fronoleu. Click to enlarge

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.

Waves Bar, Seaton, Cornwall. Click to enlarge.

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.

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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 and second-hand cars.

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.

Click to enlarge

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.

Picture courtesy of Daily Mail, click to enlarge

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 for other reasons.

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.

Click to enlarge

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. Are they related?

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 . . .

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.

THE FINALE

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.

Image courtesy of Caernarfon airport, click to enlarge

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 bought by the kinds of people we’ve looked at in the Weep for Wales series.

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.

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 undesirables who arrive announcing grand plans that never come to anything.

Rather than allowing Wales to become a haven for asset-strippers, mortgage fraudsters, money-launderers, etc., it might be best to compulsorily purchase and then demolish places like Plas Glynllifon.

end ♦

Weep for Wales 10

When I wrote ‘Weep for Wales’ back on June 13 I never thought it would turn into the blogging equivalent of War and Peace, but here we are at number 10.

And if you want to know how we got here, if you want the full and unexpurgated story, then you’ll have to wade through what has gone before: 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.

In this latest episode I shall focus on two important matters. First, details of the liquidation of the Williams’ company Leisure & Development Ltd; followed by an Employment Tribunal held last month that saw a former employee of Paul and Rowena Williams given a substantial compensation package.

But first, let’s remind ourselves where we’re at in Gwynedd.

HOLDING OUT ON THE NORTHERN FRONT

In the previous episode I let my imagination run riot and presented you with the image of Paul Williams as Jean Gabin in Le Jour se Lève, holed up in his grubby little room waiting for the cops. But I may have jumped a scene or two because a northern source tells me that the crook may not be finished.

While the purchase of Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch has certainly fallen through the odious couple still has crumbling Plas Glynllifon, not forgetting the Seiont Manor Hotel, where we find faithful family retainer Rikki Reynolds snorting away.

The other Gwynedd property, Fronoleu, near Dolgellau, owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, seems to have been totally abandoned. Certainly the hotel/restaurant is left to rot, but the site includes a seven-bedroom house that is occupied.

The great obstacle to development here is that Fronoleu can only be reached by the single-track lane running between Dolgellau and the Cross Foxes junction of the A487 with the A470. It’s highly unlikely that any traffic-increasing development will be allowed.

Fronoleu, click to enlarge

What my source directs me to on the sprawling Glynllifon estate is land and buildings owned by Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, operating Coleg Glynllifon. Specifically, the old stables, now used as the canteen. I’m assured that Williams is showing interest.

Grŵp Llandrillo Menai has said nothing throughout this saga, but unless there’s a rabbit to pulled from the hat it’s difficult to explain why Paul and Rowena Williams are hanging on at Glynllifon.

Unless it’s because they have nowhere else to go.

‘RANSOM STRIPS’ AND RE-ENTRY PROBLEMS

A feature of Paul and Rowena Williams’ behaviour is the practice of detaching a small section from a larger holding in order to make a separate title. This then compromises the value and desirability of the larger holding without the smaller section. And of course it correspondingly increases the value of that smaller section.

In such situations, the smaller section is usually referred to as a ‘ransom strip’. This situation can often occur quite unintentionally, but in the case of the Williamses it is deliberate.

This charge, 0938 9316 0007, taken out by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd as recently as July, helps explain what I’m talking about. You’ll see that it’s made up mainly of ‘ransom strips’, small pieces of land compromising larger plots.

Let me further explain what I’m talking about with a specific example.

One of Paul and Rowena Williams’ properties is/was the Castle Inn at Wigmore, just over the border in Herefordshire. If you look at this title plan it shows clearly the original boundary, but it’s equally obvious that a chunk has been taken out.

This was done in 2015, that year when new companies were being formed, properties being bought and sold.

The main part of the Castle Inn, title number HE53573, is owned by Leisure & Development Ltd, the company in liquidation. The ‘ransom strip’, title number HE31873, is owned by Rural Retreats & Development Ltd, of Plas Glynllifon, directors Paul and Rowena Williams.

Moving back to Powys and the Knighton Hotel, it might seem difficult if not impossible to own a ‘ransom strip’ affecting a substantial building slap in the middle of town. But they’ve done it.

The hotel comprises both the stone building you see on the left and the half-timbered building on the right.

click to enlarge

Within the Knighton Hotel Paul and Rowena Williams own the ‘Norton Showroom’ on the ground floor at the far right, a flat above, and it’s also believed they have the run of the cellars. The flat is owned in their names and shown in blue in this title plan for the hotel. Here’s the title document for the showroom or shop.

In Presteigne, at the Radnorshire Arms Hotel, the Gruesome Twosome still owns the old garage building and car park directly opposite the hotel. I’m told that there was once a plan for four town houses on this plot.

This town houses plan seems to have been drawn up but never submitted for planning approval. And I’ve heard of other schemes that never took flight. All of which adds to the image of Paul Williams as a bit of a fantasist, or as I described him in the previous post, “a sinister kind of Walter Mitty”.

Radnorshire Arms garage and car park. Courtesy of Google Earth, click to enlarge

If they were to turn the Knighton Hotel shop into a dildo emporium, or allowed Travellers to set up camp in the Radnorshire Arms car park, Paul and Rowena Williams could make their former properties very unattractive to potential buyers.

But just owning these ‘ransom strips’ – coupled with their reputation for deviousness – may be enough to deter many buyers. And as I say, the situation we see today was planned years ago by slicing parts off the original titles, almost anticipating the scenarios I’m describing.

So I suppose that if nobody wanted to buy the properties, then Paul and Rowena Williams, or someone acting for them, might be able to buy them back very cheaply.

I’ve just mentioned Leisure & Development Ltd, the owner of these assorted properties being in receivership, so let’s consider the latest developments.

An administrator was appointed on August 18 and the administrator’s proposals became available on the Companies House website on September 20. These proposals are worth reading because they give quite a full run-down of the situation. Since then the proposals have been approved, though that document was not available on the CH website at the time of writing.

Under Section 2 ‘Events leading up to the administration’, we read that, “The various properties were purchased between July 2015 and February 2016 for a total sum of £11,887,828 (as per documents registered at the Land Registry).” But then we read, for year ending 31 January 2018, the company had fixed assets of £16,894,195 (against £23,119,820 the previous year). While in Appendix C we read that the book value of the freehold properties is £13,908,979.

Let’s look at the 2015 purchases. As we’ve seen, the properties ‘bought’ in 2015 were simply transferred from one Williams vehicle (usually their personal ownership) to another at greatly inflated prices in order to pull down mortgages and loans. For example, the stated purchase price of the Radnorshire Arms Hotel was £3,487,049. It’s worth a third of that on a good day.

Inflated purchase prices were part of the scam, a way of laundering money. But if the properties were bought in 2015 at ludicrously high prices how can their book value today be even higher? Are the administrators afraid to have independent valuations done?

And if the properties were grossly overvalued in 2015 at £11,887,828 where the hell does the fixed assets valuation for 2018 of £16,894,195 come from? (And £23,119,820 the year before!) The answer is, Paul and Rowena Williams’ trusty accountant, John Duggan, a convicted fraudster, who robbed an elderly widow of some £700,000.

In fact, the accounts for Leisure & Development Ltd are worth us dallying awhile. The first submitted accounts are for year ending 31 January 2016 and are the accounts for a dormant company, despite all the ‘purchases’ made in 2015. These accounts were submitted by Debra Oswald, Paul Williams’ sister.

The next accounts, up to 31 January 2017, come from the dancing quill of John Duggan. Now we see a figure of £23,119,820 in fixed assets, and £23,906,551 owed to creditors.

Er, no, they were not ‘purchased’ because Paul and Rowena Williams already owned these properties. click to enlarge

Those creditors reappear in the administrator’s report. First comes NatWest Bank plc, owed £6,202,405. Next in line is Together Commercial Finance (no sum stated). But Paul and Rowena Williams are also hoping for a strip of the carcass with a claim for no less than £11,751,698.

The money owed to Paul and Rowena Williams can only be the money from the ‘sales’ in 2015, when they sold properties to themselves at inflated valuations. Does this really count as an acceptable debt?

Think about it for a minute; what they’re saying, in effect, is: ‘We transferred properties from ourselves to a company we’d formed and of course we didn’t pay anything – it was just a scam to get mortgages and loans – but we’re still hoping someone will view us as legitimate claimants on the assets of our former company’.

This report we’ve looked at from the liquidators, RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP, is misleading as it relies on insane valuations and a fraudster’s figures. This is either a mistake on RSM’s part or else it suits someone’s agenda to accept the Williams narrative and the Duggan figures.

Spaceship Williams should return to Earth when potential buyers are asked to make offers for the various properties. I guarantee no one will offer anything like £3.5m for the Radnorshire Arms, irrespective of whether the McGillycuddy clan is enjoying a hoolie in the car park.

STRAIGHT OUTTA DICKENS

I have commented many times on the contemptuous way in which Paul and Rowena Williams treat those who work for them, and being an absolute bastard is something that also comes easy to their trusted lieutenant, Rikki Reynolds.

And it’s not just those who work for them that suffer; it’s neighbours, suppliers, and just about anybody else they can take advantage of. The Williams pair and Reynolds believe they can do whatever they like, to whoever they like, whenever they like, with no consequences.

They often take a sadistic pleasure in humiliating people.

I think I may have mentioned a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor Hotel, a man with learning difficulties, who was forced out last year after working there for over 22 years. Now I can give you more details and also tell you how that story developed.

The background is that Rowena Williams intimidated this poor man into accepting a reduction in his weekly hours from 30 to 9 and then dismissed him on August 9 2017. He went to the Citizens Advice Bureau and it all ended up with an Employment Tribunal at Mold on September 5 this year.

Below you’ll see a financial summary of the verdict, and you can read the full document here, with the claimant’s name and the case number redacted.

click to enlarge

As I say, the tribunal took place on September 5, and as you read the Judgment you’ll see that Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd has 14 days from the ‘calculation day’ of September 7 to pay the stipulated sum. If no payment is made within this period then interest of 8% starts accruing.

You’ll note that no one from the Williams side turned up at Mold County Court, which is how they operate – they ignore letters and demands, they refuse to attend arranged meetings, they find excuses for not having complied with instructions: ‘Oh, we didn’t realise’ . . . ‘Nobody told us’ . . . ‘Obviously a misunderstanding’.

It’s the old tactic of ignoring something long enough in the hope it’ll go away; which it often does when you’re dealing with local authorities and the ‘Welsh’ Government.

You’ll also note that the judgment was made against Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd, yet this company changed its name on March 17 2015 to Polvellan Manor Ltd. And before becoming Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd in 2007 it was Mortimers Cross Inn Ltd, formed in 2002, this being the Williams’ original company, and indeed their only company until 2015.

Seeing as this was the company name on the dismissed kitchen porter’s pay slips it means that Paul and Rowena Williams were still using a company name that had been changed over two years earlier. Is this legal?

Paul and Rowena Williams were directors until April 1 2018, when they stepped down, maybe in the hope of escaping the impending employment tribunal. The sole director now is the ever-obliging, convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge, who took over on the same day as Paul and Rowena Williams ceased to be directors.

Whatever the motives for recently putting Partridge in charge, the fact remains that when the offences dealt with by the employment tribunal were committed in 2017 the only directors of Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd/Polvellan Manor Ltd were Paul and Rowena Williams.

But you still have to wonder why Partridge agreed to let his name be used as skipper of the Titanic when the iceberg was already in sight.

It should go without saying that the former Seiont Manor kitchen porter is not optimistic about getting his money. Which is a sad reflection on the Englandandwales legal system, because I believe the law should provide some guarantee of payment.

UPDATE 08.10.2018: Someone has just pointed out an inconsistency in the Employment Tribunal document. At the head of the document, under ‘Judgment’, it refers to ‘Rural Retreats & Leisure Ltd’, (now Polvellan Manor Ltd) but scroll down, to ‘Notice’, and the company mentioned is ‘Rural Retreats & Leisure Uk (sic) Ltd‘.

click to enlarge

I shouldn’t think that this invalidates the decision. After all they’re both Williams companies, but it does remind us of the danger of dealing with companies with very similar names. And of course, it’s why shysters like Williams have companies with confusingly similar names.

The Daily Post has now caught up with the story.

WHERE WE ARE TODAY

The current situation can be summed up as follows:

  • Paul and Rowena Williams are holed up at Plas Glynllifon, a massive pile they have estimated will cost £20m to refurbish.
  • Apart from Plas Glynllifon they have no (known) assets other than assorted ‘ransom strips’, abandoned Fronoleu, and the Seiont Manor Hotel, with the latter being run into the ground by drug-dependent Rikki Reynolds (who is indulged because he knows where the bodies are buried).
  • Debts are piling up, and money is running short, which is why they were unable to complete the purchase of Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch.
  • On top of all their other problems they now have the mounting debt of the Industrial Tribunal.
  • The Police are investigating.
  • And now I hear that HMRC is also taking an interest.

In last week’s post, Plaid Cymru’s enemy within, in speaking of Anne Greagsby, I wrote, “I can’t say I know Anne Greagsby, I’ve met her just once . . . she was in good company, which I’m old-fashioned enough to believe is a useful indicator of a person’s character.”

That holds true for everyone, and when we look at Paul and Rowena Williams, who do we find them associating with? Well, there’s Rikki Reynolds, and I have been told stories about this bastard that I would love to tell, but in doing so I might compromise a source. I just wish I was free to tell you about the gardener.

Paul and Rowena Williams’ accountant is convicted fraudster John Duggan. Long-time associate and business partner, the man who supposedly bought now liquidated Leisure & Development Ltd, and who has also agreed to be sole director of Polvellan Manor Ltd is Keith Partridge, another convicted fraudster.

Down in Cornwall, running the Waves Bar for them, we found Stuart Paul Cooper – yet another fraudster! And who is the mysterious Michael Jones, sole director of Rural Retreats & Leisure UK Ltd? I’m prepared to bet that he has an interesting biography. Then we have Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, and his parents with their iffy hotel business in India.

Finally, there is Dudley James Cross, whose Linkedin profile says he works for property company Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been an associate of Paul Williams since at least 2008, he was even showing people around Plas Glynllifon on the Open Days in June, and he has served as a director of the company now in liquidation, Leisure & Development Ltd. It is widely believed that he had a hand in the absurd valuations of the properties Paul and Rowena Williams ‘sold’ to themselves in 2015.

These are not business people who’ve taken ‘short cuts’ or made the odd mistake; these are not honest folk who fell in with rogues – these are crooks, pure and simple. They should be behind bars.

♦ end ♦