Press release

Scheme which abused insolvency regime and saved landlords £26.5million is shut down in the public interest

Six companies that were part of a series of 22 single purpose vehicle companies have been closed down by the High Court for an abuse of insolvency legislation and operating in a manner that lacked commercial probity.

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The latest six companies in the group were wound up on 18 February 2015, with 16 others having been wound up on 3 July 2013.

Petitions were presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills to wind-up all the companies up in the public interest. This followed confidential investigations by Company Investigations, a part of the Insolvency Service.

The investigation found each company had taken the lease or leases of unoccupied commercial properties and then almost immediately entered into members’ voluntary liquidation. Without exception, the companies had subsequently failed to appoint a liquidator or ceased to carry on business, in a clear breach of the requirements of the Insolvency Act 1986.

A voluntary winding up commences at the time of the passing of the resolution for winding up. However, the effect of placing the companies into members’ voluntary liquidation and the failure to appoint a liquidator was that the companies, as leaseholder, would otherwise have been liable to pay national non-domestic rates (business rates), but in fact, can obtain an exemption from doing so.

As a consequence of these actions, the landlords, who would have had to pay the business rates, had the properties in question remained unoccupied, obtained an obvious benefit.

The Secretary of State formed the view that it did not remain the public interest to pursue the petition brought against the company which promoted and facilitated the scheme. This was a result of undertakings offered by the facilitating company, its director and shareholders and accepted by the Court, to the effect that the facilitating company no longer carried on the promotion or operation of the scheme and had no intention of doing so in the future.

The scheme was in operation between February 2010 and October 2013 and resulted in approximately £26.5 million not being paid in business rates that otherwise would have been payable if the scheme had not been in operation.

The Court found that the operation of the scheme was an abuse of the Insolvency Legislation and lacked commercial probity.

Welcoming the Court’s winding up decisions David Hill, a Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

The systematic abuse of both the insolvency and the corporate regime enabled those behind the companies to benefit at the expense of the Crown.

No one should be in doubt that whenever we discover there are serious failings, as with these companies, we will investigate and take action to close down their activities.

Notes to Editors

These are the companies that were involved in the scheme:

  • DWV Limited (CRO. No.07654925); Incorporated: 01.06.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; Registered Office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW; David Fletcher, Director and Company Secretary.
  • BDP Properties Limited (CRO. No. 07633426); Incorporated: 13.05.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; Registered office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW; Director: David Fletcher.
  • BDP Real Estate Limited (CRO No. 07775237); incorporated: 15.09.11; wound-up:03.07.11; Registered office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Haven Equitable Limited (CRO No. 07596779); incorporated: 15.09.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; Registered office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW ; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Grafton Equitable Limited (CRO No. 07681076); incorporated: 23.06.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Curzon Equitable Limited (CRO No. 07628032); incorporated: 10.05.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW; Director: David Fletcher.
  • LEW Limited (CRO No. 07654921); incorporated: 01.06.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: Wisteria, Cavendish House, 369 Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 5AW; Director & Company Secretary: David Fletcher.
  • Bella Real Estate limited (CRO No. 076359223); incorporated: 27.08.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Smallbrook Properties Limited (07133831); incorporated: 22.01.10; wound-up:03.07.11; registered office: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Florence Real Estate Limited (CRO No. 07325907); incorporated: 26.07.10; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Director: David Fletcher.
  • EHL Real Estate Limited (CRO No. 07623529); incorporated: 05.05.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Director: David Fletcher.
  • RCS Property Limited (CRO No. 08065763); incorporated: 11.05.12; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Directors: David Fletcher & Minerva Trust Company as Trustees of the Highland Purpose Trust.
  • Downmill Assets Limited (CRO No. 07183000); incorporated: 09.03.10; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Marchside Limited (CRO No. 08432193); incorporated: 06.03.13; wound-up: 18.02.15; registered office: The Broadgate Tower, Third Floor, 20 Primrose Street, London EC2A 2RS; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Curzon Chester Limited (CRO No. 07583757); incorporated: 03.03.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: Suite 250, 162-168 Regent Street, London W1B 5D; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Hayling Riverside Limited (CRO No. 07524524); incorporated: 10.02.11; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: Suite 250, 162-168 Regent Street, London W1B 5D; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Hayling (NS) Limited (CRO No. 08380227); incorporated: 29.01.13; wound-up: 18.02.15; registered office: Wisteria Camrose House, 2A Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6EG; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Mayes Property Limited (CRO No. 08128768); incorporated: 03.07.12; wound-up: 03.07.11; registered office: Suite Wisteria Camrose House, 2A Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6EG; Director: David Fletcher.
  • BDP (CP) Limited (CRO No. 08380373); incorporated: 29.01.13; wound-up: 18.02.15; registered office: Wisteria Camrose House, 2A Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6EG; Director: David Fletcher.
  • BE (Gloucester) Limited (CRO No. 08329390); incorporated: 13.12.12; wound-up: 18.02.15; registered office: Wisteria Camrose House, 2A Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6EG; Director: David Fletcher.
  • Hayling Limited (CRO No. 07809766); incorporated: 13.10.11; wound-up: 18.02.15; registered office: Wisteria Camrose House, 2A Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6EG; Director: David Fletcher.
  • JTF Property Limited (CRO No. 08136390); incorporated: 10.07.12; wound-up: 18.02.15; registered office: Wisteria Camrose House, 2A Camrose Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6EG; Director: David Fletcher.

The petitions to wind up companies 1-13, 15, 16 and 18 were presented in the High Court on 18 February 2013 and those companies were placed into Compulsory Liquidation on public interest grounds on 3 July 2013. The remaining petitions were presented on 18 September 2014 and those companies were placed into Compulsory Liquidation on public interest grounds on 18 February 2015. All petitions were presented under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator of all the companies.

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Further information about live company investigations is available.

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice.

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is [available}( All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit , 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.

Published 23 March 2015