Thanks to one of the Asset Land Scam Group members, Roberta, for liaising with the FCA and transcribing the conversation you can read below.
Dear Interested Parties
Following interest in the above from a few of you I spoke to John Edwards of the FCA this morning [this was 10 Jan 16 – Ed] who spent 25 minutes explaining what the situation is at the moment. I think I managed to get it all down so I include a transcript of what he said. I appreciate that quite a lot of it is already known but at least it puts it in perspective and we have information about the way forward from here and placed on the assetlandscam website for everyone to see..
ROBERTA CONVERSATION WITH JOHN EDWARDS, FCA, 10.01.17
As you know the Supreme Court judgement dismissed the final appeal of the defendants in April 2016. This cleared the way to enforce the original judgement. The ruling was that £21million should to paid by the defendants. Since then certain technical/legal details have been attended to and the FCA made the demands on the defendants (2 individuals David Banner-Eve and Stuart Cohen and the two companies – one registered in the UK and the other in Panama). The time has lapsed for them to pay up so a bankruptcy petition was issued against Banner-Eve to be heard in the Cambridge County Court on 10 Feb 2017. He will be made bankrupt because he won’t have the money. Also petitions are being finalised against the 2 companies, and they have to wait 28 days between service and action. FCA will wind up both companies, therefore, at the end of February 2017. April will probably be the Court date by the time the orders are made.
So Banner-Eve – a trustee in bankruptcy will be appointed to take control of his assets. The receiver will step in and safeguard assets, then an independent trustee will become the trustee with power to control assets and sell to the benefit of creditors.
The FCA is the biggest creditor at £10million presumably due to the costs of the Court Case. The rest would be for us – the investors. However, the FCA is thinking about cutting out the middle man and relinquishing their share (£10m) so that all will come to us. It is hard to tell at the moment how much is available. There are assets subject to the freezing order such as buy to let properties (not known at the moment whether these have mortgages on them or not) – the equity is unknown.
The trustee needs to get hands on the assets. It is likely that it will be significantly less than what investors paid out. This is estimated that this will take 1-2 years from now because it takes time to sell properties etc. John Edwards said that if we get anything we should see it as a bonus.
There are 7 sites which were sold to investors. Some are owned by the Panamanian company some by the UK company. Not all plots were sold at each site. The companies still own some of the plots. It is likely that the sites have some value. The FCA anticipates that the liquidator will realise the assets for the benefit of creditors as part of the defendants’ assets – land it owns on the sites.
Because there are lots of owners the individuals won’t be able to sell off plots. The liquidator will be the best person to sell off the sites. He will invite plot holders to enter into a scheme using a legal mechanism designed to unify the site ownership under one register of title – to dispose of as a whole and reimburse plot owners in proportion to what they own. We, the investors, may be asked to sign the legal title to a trustee to hold in trust for the legal owners and a legal mechanism used to achieve a sale.
Liquidation estimate for April 2017. FCA is in the hands of the courts. Petitioned Banner-Eve in November and only getting bankruptcy hearing in February – example of how long it takes. Have to wait for Court decision. The same will happen when the companies are wound up. Petition runs out mid-Feb so court date won’t be before March-April.
Stuart Cohen is the 2nd individual in the equation. He has never engaged with the FCA. He has never provided an affidavit of his assets. After the disheartening result of the West Berks case, it became possible for Cohen to leave the country because his bail conditions were lifted and nobody knows where he is but probably in Panama. To chase assets may not be financial viable in Panama because Panamanian solicitors would have to be employed and the cost may be greater than the assets.
It is suspected that much of the money went abroad – it is time consuming to chase and could take years. There are physical assets in the UK, but FCA not sure how much it will yield. It depends what decision the trustees in the bankruptcy make on how much it’s going to cost to find these other assets. They have to make a hard-nosed decision about whether it’s worth pursuing it. It’s the trustee’s job to find these assets and make that decision.