As promised, here’s the latest instalment in the Paul and Rowena Williams Against the World saga (for that’s how it begins to look). I had considered postponing this update, but so much information is coming in that I have to publish before I’m overwhelmed.
Now I’ll say what I always say at this point: if you want the story (so far!) then you’ll need to go back and work through 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 and Weep for Wales 10.
WHERE WE ARE
For those who don’t have time to read the previous ten episodes here’s a quick summary.
Paul Williams and his wife Rowena are two crooks who built up a property portfolio by dubious means and then sold those properties to themselves at insanely inflated valuations in order to obtain loans and mortgages well in excess of the properties’ true worth. This money of course they pocketed.
Soon after the phoney sales ‘ransom strips’ were detached from the properties and allocated to other titles. These properties were held by Leisure & Development Ltd, a company now in administration.
This portfolio included properties in Cornwall and Northumbria but the gang’s ‘heartland’ was Powys and over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire.
They next branched out into Gwynedd, buying the woebegone Fronoleu hotel and restaurant near Dolgellau, the Seiont Manor Hotel at Llanrug, and the impressive Plas Glynllifon near Llandwrog. Posing as major property investors they also strung people along by showing interest in Plas Brereton and Plas Tŷ Coch, but after the truth emerged about them they were unable to raise the money to complete the purchase.
Realising the game was up, and having pissed off just about everyone they ever dealt with in the March they severed their ties and physically removed themselves to the Realm of Eagles.
In a further attempt to wash their hands of things Paul and Rowena Williams went through the charade of selling their Leisure & Development Ltd property portfolio for £11m to old friend, and convicted fraudster, Keith Partridge.
Having introduced Keith Partridge there are other characters we’ve met along the way who are worthy of mention. There’s Paul Williams’ sister, Debra Oswald, who seems to slip in and out of this saga, having served as director, partner, accountant, even creditor.
Paul and Debra’s father Michael has a hotel business in Goa. (Though it may have been struck off.) It would be interesting to know how he gets on with the locals, because on issues of race and colour he is said to have been expelled from the KKK for being too racist.
We’ve already met one fraudster in the form of Keith Partridge, another in the ensemble is the Williams’ accountant John Duggan. And if that wasn’t enough, the Waves Bar in Cornwall is run for them by Stuart Paul Cooper, of whom more later.
Then there’s faithful Rikki Reynolds, who runs the Seiont Manor. He drinks too much, he is dependent on drugs, but they keep him on. I refuse to believe the rumour that this may have something to do with Rikki being close to Rowena.
Not to be overlooked is Dudley Cross. His Linkedin profile would have us believe that he works for property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton, but he’s been involved with Paul and Rowena Williams for many years. He served as a director (until 01.02.2018) of Leisure & Development Ltd, and even donned his peaked cap to act as guide for Plas Glynllifon’s open day in June.
It is widely believed that it was his – and perhaps more especially, LSH’s – imprimatur that persuaded lenders to accept the absurd valuations we shall soon examine in more detail.
In addition to being crooks, the Williams couple and Rikki Reynolds are repulsive individuals. They take pleasure in humiliating people. It sometimes seems that their greatest pleasure is derived from hurting those least able to defend themselves.
One such case was the treatment meted out to a kitchen porter at the Seiont Manor, a man with learning difficulties who had worked there for over twenty years, but Rowena Williams wanted him out.
It ended at an Employment Tribunal in September where the man was awarded £27,907.42 . . . money he is unlikely ever to see.
As might be expected, these odious creatures have been funded by the ‘Welsh Government’ and have received one uncritical report after another from the ‘Welsh’ media, with Owen Hughes of the Daily Post deserving of special mention.
Now read on.
PSST! WANNA BUY A HOTEL, GOIN’ CHEAP?’
So what have I got for you this time? Quite a lot as it happens.
First, let’s remind ourselves that the empire is crumbling and apart from the Gwynedd properties and a few outliers everything else seems to be in the hands of receivers and up for sale.
Those receivers being RSM, who are now selling the properties through the company Colliers. Click on the links for details for each of the properties: The Salutation Inn (and caravan site), near Berwick; The Waves Bar, in Cornwall; The Bird in Hand, Ironbridge; The Castle Inn (and caravan park), Wigmore; The Knighton Hotel, Knighton; The Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne.
Let us focus on the two Powys properties, as we have for most of this saga. You will recall that these properties were sold by Paul and Rowena Williams to Leisure & Development Ltd, and the prices they claimed to have paid in 2015 were £2,881,599 for the Knighton and £3,487,049 for the Radnorshire.
RSM is now recommending sale prices of £550,000 (-£2,331,599) for the Knighton and £700,000 (-£2,787,049) for the Radnorshire. That’s a fall of £5,118,648 . . . and of course RSM might not even get the prices they’re suggesting, because there are plenty of pubs and hotels for sale at the moment, then there’s Brexit looming, maybe a general election . . .
How do we account for such a massive drop in valuations?
As I explained, the earlier valuations were dreamed up in order to get loans and mortgages for properties that Paul and Rowena Williams already owned, but pretended to buy through Leisure & Development Ltd.
Equally fictitious was the sale of those properties earlier this year for £11m to convicted fraudster Keith Harvey Part(d)ridge.
Which is how we end up in the bizarre position of Paul and Rowena Williams appearing as creditors to the tune of £11m of the company they claim to have sold to Part(d)ridge.
But then, there’s a certain symmetry to all this. Because if you can sell something to yourself why can’t you owe yourself money?
The only good news for Paul and Rowena Williams might be that Dyfed Powys Police are not pressing charges. Though quite what Plod was investigating in relation to “the sudden closure of hotels” previously owned by Paul and Rowena Williams is a mystery.
The only clue in the Daily Post report is “Tourism Investment Support Scheme grants”, which was never a runner.
FRESH NEWS, SAME OLD STORY
As I said earlier, I’ve received a steady trickle of information about Paul and Rowena Williams and their gang. Here are just some of the things I’ve been told since the previous instalment.
From an anonymous source:
“She (Rowena Williams) may well be autistic . . . She is morally empty, and I think that her son —— (who is a lovely lad) really deserves a more honest set of parents . . . I realise that this doesn’t really count as a story, but I was so annoyed at the Radnorshire Arms ending up like it is that I wrote to you . . . I was actually hurt by the experience . . . Please keep up the good work!”
A recent comment to Weep for Wales 9:
Message to my ‘Contact Me’ box:
“Message: before i start I wish to remain anonymous about what I say. from November 2016, to November 17, I worked as ————————– for rural retreats and leisure, I can comfirn that HMRC had in fact been in touch with the Williams’s prior, as in july 2017, myself, and all the other live in staff of the knighton hotel, where subject to an investigation, regarding how our rent was paid. after HMRC had come back with the decision that there had been wrong doings in regard to how our rent was being taken. they told the Williams’s that we were owed back pay, as they were taking rent out of our wages as a deduction of wage, not as actual rent, of which became clear that I was being paid below the national minimum wage. shortly after this, the Williams’s slowly starting to dispose of us. myself being fired for gross misconduct on made up allegations with no evidence whatsoever. they practically forced a family of 4 to find a new house in the area, and pushed the head chef in an attempt to get him to quit, effectively taking us all out of the equation. I have been following all of your weep for wales, and everything you have said makes complete sense. on the outside, Rowena pushes a persona of care for staff, but on the inside, both of them are only looking out for them selves. I hope this interests you in your continuing saga.”
(A source with inside information was able to tell me that the total amount owed to staff was £58,594.)
Something you soon learn about Paul Williams and the “morally empty” Rowena is that they don’t like paying staff, suppliers, tradesmen, anybody. What’s theirs is theirs . . . and what’s yours is also theirs.
It seems that creditors were encouraged to have meals and drinks at Paul and Rowena Williams’ establishments, with the cost then deducted from the amount they were owed. One source tells me of walking into the bar of the Knighton Hotel one time and seeing nine creditors quaffing away!
Just picture it! Barmaid: ‘Another large whisky, Mr Jones? That’ll be £76, and it brings the amount Mr Williams owes you down to £5,732.68 – you’ll soon be owing him!’
There is something surreal about such a scene, though trying to turn your creditors into alcoholics has a certain logic – they might forget about the debt!
And of course, another twist is that Paul Williams wasn’t paying for the booze anyway! I’ve heard one sad story of a rep from Molson Coors being threatened with physical violence for daring to ask for the money he was owed.
A documented example I can give of Williams not paying his debts arrived last week from Grafters Group Ltd, a company that supplies staff to hotels. This company eventually had to resort to court proceedings in the hope of getting the money owed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Needless to say, they’re still waiting.
Take Jac’s advice: If you’re selling to these buggers, supplying goods or doing work for them – make sure you’re paid in cash, up front, and then check the notes to make sure they’re genuine.
A number of times in this series I’ve mentioned the distressed Fronoleu hotel and restaurant at Tabor, outside Dolgellau, bought by Paul Williams at auction in 2015 for over £300,000 and paid for in cash. I also mentioned a seven-bedroom house alongside Fronoleu. Through another new source, I now know who lives there.
This person works for Paul Williams at the Seiont Manor, and as with so many other employees false declarations are made with regard to wages in order to save Paul and Rowena Williams money and cheat HMRC.
And yet, it seems Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are aware of the Williams Gang’s tricks but are reluctant to move against them.
THE UGLIER SIDE
Paul and Rowena Williams are so transparently dishonest, so blatantly corrupt, that it’s difficult not to laugh at them, but there is a nastier side to the operation.
We’ve seen that the Waves Bar in Cornwall is for sale, with RSM asking for “offers in excess of £500,000”. Which seems reasonable, as it comes with “five apartments and a shop”. Though few things are straightforward with Williams, and the Waves Bar is no exception, for I’m told there are questions over the ownership of some of those apartments.
For some time now the Waves Bar has been run by Stuart Paul Cooper. Another associate with a colourful past. He came unstuck in 2012 when working as a debt collector. This Insolvency Service document suggests he then went on the lam.
But of course none of this was an obstacle to him being employed by Paul and Rowena Williams. Being a fraudster with a penchant for violence made Stuart Paul Cooper the kind of recruit they look for.
The latest news from Cornwall says that Cooper is behaving true to form. He recruits young staff, overworks them, underpays them, sacks them, and when they come asking for what they’re owed he threatens to kill them and anyone who dares to speak up for them.
Where the takings go from the Waves Bar is a good question. For there is a suspicion that since the collapse of Leisure & Development Ltd Cooper may be flying solo. Another question is whether suppliers are being paid.
But what really puzzles me is why liquidators RSM allow Cooper to remain at The Waves Bar, because the reputational damage this man is doing will not be put right by an ‘Under New Management’ sign.
A CAST OF CROOKS, THUGS AND SHYSTERS
You’ve met the leading players in this story, I’ve given you examples of what they’ve done and how they behave. I’m sure that like me you’re wondering why they aren’t behind bars where they belong.
For some reason the police, HMRC and others seem to look benignly on ‘white collar’ crime, they may even persuade themselves that such offences are ‘victimless’. But that’s wrong.
This gang has lied and cheated for years, and it’s not just banks and other lenders that have lost out. Decent, hard-working people – often vulnerable people – have been exploited, cheated of money they were owed, thrown onto the street, and put in fear of their lives when they sought redress.
But these gangsters laugh at us all as they drive around in their new Range Rovers and their Beemers with personalised number plates. They take us all for mugs.
There is something very wrong with the legal system of Englandandwales that it allows such people to go unpunished, and to prosper. It’s a system providing courts and tribunals that say, ‘Yes, we agree that these bastards owe you money, we’ll even fix the amount . . . but there’s nothing we can do to make them pay’.
While police and governmental agencies look the other way when criminal offences are brought to light.
We obviously need a different system; a better system; a Welsh system.
♦ end ♦
APOLOGY: I’m sitting on a number of good stories that I’m just unable to do justice to because I don’t have the time. Please understand that I’m not deliberately ignoring anyone, but as a one-man band with family and other commitments there’s only so much I can do.