By Tom Winnifrith | Thursday 19 April 2018
I wonder if Julie Meyer's lawyers will be sending a missive to The Times to bully it after a devestating piece appeared today. It really does beg massive questions although Meyer says she has done nothing wrong. Having already chatted to a couple of creditors and investors in her companies today I am not sure that her opinion is universally shared.
Anyhow The Times, reiterating many of the questions we have posed about related party deals but which administrators of Ariadne Capital Limited appear to regard as serious, reports:
Creditors of Ariadne Capital, the investment business founded by Julie Meyer, have been asked if they would be willing to fund a possible legal action to challenge allegedly suspicious transactions involving the business.
Administrators of the investment firm, which collapsed in December, are seeking legal advice to explore “potential claims” concerning the sale of Ariadne Capital assets to a related party in 2016 and possible discrepancies in the company’s finances, The Times can reveal.
Ms Meyer, the American businesswoman who has been a guest at Downing Street and was awarded an MBE for services to entrepreneurship in 2011, said that there was “no meritorious complaint to be made”.
Ariadne Capital was founded in 2000 as an investor and adviser to early stage businesses. It also ran the Entrepreneurcountry networking platform. It collapsed after one of its suppliers, GQ Employment Law, issued a winding up petition, forcing it into administration. Unsecured creditors are expected to lose almost £2.2 million.
In a letter to the creditors, Andrew Duncan, a joint administrator, said that he was not convinced by Ms Meyer’s explanation when he asked her to justify a “significant decrease in the asset position” of the company, compared with the one presented in its 2016 accounts. The accounts showed assets of £7.2 million, of which £6.9 million could be attributed to related party debtors. In the letter, Mr Duncan says: “We have since been advised that the company does not have any assets other than minimal investments with a book value of £2,528, tangible assets of £1,953 and book debts of £36,000.”
Ms Meyer said that the discrepancy was down to an agreement with other companies, which meant that assets could be transferred to a Maltese business set up by Ms Meyer in return for working capital coming the other way. Mr Duncan told creditors he did not think this explanation was “credible”.
Administrators are also investigating the sale of Entrepreneurcountry to another group entity, Ariadne Capital Entrepreneurs, also known as the ACE Fund, for £4.5 million, which on paper created a significant asset. But Ariadne Capital never received any cash for the deal. Instead, ACE became a debtor to Ariadne. The debt is ultimately the liability of Ms Meyer’s Maltese business, Ariadne Capital Group, but administrators do not believe that the company is in a position to settle the debt.
Other people have complained to the Financial Conduct Authority concerning claims that investors were misled about the viability of the company. The regulator has also received claims that management fees charged by the ACE Fund to investors were used to pay the expenses of Ariadne Capital.
Ms Meyer said: “I refute any suggestion that the working capital agreement was not credible. The agreement was working and the reason for the administration was entirely unrelated to the inter-company deal.
“I remain deeply sorry that it was necessary for me to put the company into administration, especially given the consequences for employees and unsecured creditors. Indeed, as a mark of my goodwill . . . I put in an additional $150,000 of my own money in.”
The comments below the article also suggest that not everyone shares David Cameron's high opinion of Ms Meyer - they and the article are HERE
If, indeed, Ariadne Malta cannot meet debts that it may be pursued for one suspects that regulators at the MFSA might now be getting a tad jumpy
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