Businessmen refuse to help trace millions owed to savers
5th September 2019
THE four men being investigated over the collapse of a Tunbridge Wells investment firm are refusing to help in finding tens of millions of pounds that have gone missing.
London Capital & Finance [LCF] fell into administration in January owing £237million to around 11,500 investors.
Many of the people who lost money in the scandal had ploughed their lifesavings into the firm’s bond scheme, which was offering interest rates as high as eight per cent.
LCF were meant to be supplying business loans with the money to a wide range of start-ups, but in reality most of it went to business interests connected to just four men.
The men include LCF founder and former Tunbridge Wells Conservative Party chairman, Simon Hume-Kendall, as well as Elten Barker from Hadlow Down, LCF director Andy Thomson, and equestrian businessman, Spencer Golding from Crowborough.
Earlier this year when confronted by the Times at his mews home in Tunbridge Wells Mr Hume-Kendal said: “The intention is to pay all the money back.”
Despite this assurance, administrators, Smith & Williamson, say Mr Hume-Kendall along with the four other men are hampering any progress in getting back the missing millions as they are refusing to co-operate.
They have revealed that Mr Hume-Kendall and his associate, Mr Barker, through a business they owned together, London Group, borrowed £154.6million from LCF, £28.5million of which went missing.
FS Equestrian Services, a firm that listed Spencer Golding as its patron, also borrowed £12.3million from the company, and administrators are trying to track down information on horses owned by the company as well as a helicopter formerly owned by Golding which administrators want to sell.
They say they asked all the men to hand over money in escrow but none has materialised.
The collapse of LCF is also being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office who have frozen some of the men’s assets.
They have also arrested and questioned five men in connection with the LCF collapse but all have been released pending further investigations.
Finbarr O’Connell from Smith & Williamson said: “[It] has been extraordinarily complex. To make matters worse, administrators have had almost no co-operation from the main parties involved with LCF, both the company and its borrowers, which the administrators consider to be deliberate and probably co-ordinated.
“These matters have significantly added to both time and cost.”
He added they have recovered around £200,000 worth of property from LCF and there could be more to come.
“What is encouraging, however, is the work is bearing fruit and is expected to result in further recoveries,” he said.
Some of the ‘highly suspicious’ transactions being looked at by the administrators include a £27million loan to companies developing land in Cape Verde, despite the business having no legal rights to any land.
In another deal, LCF loaned £840,000 to its parent company, London Financial Group, to buy a helicopter and sell it on to an American company for a ‘quick profit’ but administrators say the US business involved had only wanted to charter the aircraft, not buy it.
One of the largest borrowers of LCF money was London Oil & Gas [LOG], which was controlled by Mr Hume-Kendall and Mr Barker.
LOG owes £122million but collapsed shortly after LCF did with less than £700 in its bank account.
Through the company, more than £80million was transferred to a number of other businesses.
One these companies, Independent Oil and Gas, remains solvent and administrators are hopeful it will pay back its LCF loan.