Businessman at the centre of LCF scandal accused of inflating company accounts

Businessman at the centre of LCF scandal accused of inflating company accounts
Elten Barker

Elten Barker from Hadlow Down in East Sussex was co-director of London Oil & Gas [LOG] alongside Simon Hume-Kendall – the former Tunbridge Wells Conservative Party Chairman who originally set up LCF.

LOG fell into administration last year with just £800 in its bank account, shortly after the demise of LCF.

Under the directorship of Mr Barker and Mr Hume-Kendall, LOG was a principal borrower of LCF funds, receiving more than £129million from the bond firm before both companies collapsed.

The two men were among five arrested by the Serious Fraud Office last year in connection with LCF’s failure, which resulted in more than 11,500 people losing their investments, but nobody has yet been charged and all the men deny any wrongdoing.

The administration of both firms is being overseen by Smith & Williamson, but Mr Barker and Mr Hume-Kendall have both refused to be interviewed.

As reported last year, Mr Hume-Kendall recently sought an injunction to prevent administrators from reviewing certain confidential or privileged information connected to the case, but his court action failed.

Mr Barker has now attempted to get administrators removed from the case by claiming that his company’s administration had been unnecessary because the business owned shares in a company called Independent Oil & Gas.

But during a High Court judgement last week, Judge Jones found that Mr Barker had ‘overvalued’ the shares in LOG’s books by nearly three times their actual worth.

He said: “The evidence leads to the conclusion that the balance sheet is unreliable because assets have been over-valued.”

He added that Mr Barker’s valuation appeared to be based on a share price of 59.05p, but the administrators found the highest share price for Independent Oil & Gas in 2019 was just 21.75p.

Judge Jones concluded that LOG had a total deficit of some £80.7million, mostly owed to LCF.

Finbarr O’Connell, partner at Smith & Williamson, which last year discovered that LCF transferred £1.5million to Mr Barker just before it collapsed, said: “Mr Barker had no legitimate interest in bringing his application to have the LOG Administrators removed from office.

“His intention was to avoid having to cooperate with the administrators and not to attend an interview with them. The court has now made clear that he must cooperate with the administration and that he must attend such an interview very soon.

“Mr Barker’s application failed, as have recent legal applications by Mr Barker’s co-director Simon Hume-Kendall.”

He added that the adminstrators would be seeking to recoup LCF and LOG’s costs, estimated to be around £500,000. Mr Barker was unavailable to comment.


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