Thirty two years after residents of the Grand first confronted Michael Stainer in Court, and three and a half years after HMRC arrested Stainer, his wife Doris and Robert Richardson, the Stainers have been declared bankrupt.
These hearings took place at the High Courts of Justice on Thursday, November 8th, and also included the winding up of the other companies who featured in the original tax cases previously reported — The Grand-UK Ltd, Keppels Ltd, Keppels Cuisine Ltd and Kentish Estates Ltd.
Adrian Dante, of McIntyre Hudson, who is already acting in the liquidation of the Grand Folkestone Ltd, the Grand Folkestone Partnership and Kentish Estates Ltd, has been appointed to deal with both the individual and the remaining corporate insolvencies.
He is what is known as the Trustee in Bankruptcy. Let’s look at what he has to do now, and we refer to the guidance provided, among others, by the ICAEW, Mr Stainer’s own professional body, from which of course he might well be expelled:
He will sell the assets of the person who owes money. He takes away most of their property (for example, their house/s and other valuable belongings) and the money collected from selling these is then shared among the people they owe money to
He collects money due to the person or company
He agrees creditors’ claims
He distributes the money collected after paying costs
He may apply to court to restore property that a bankrupt or company have disposed of in a way that is unfair to their creditors (for example if, before bankruptcy, a property had been transferred to a relative of the bankrupt for less than its full value)
The website of the Insolvency Service provides additional guidance over what assets the bankrupt can usually keep:
Items needed for one’s job, such as tools or a vehicle
Household items, such as clothing, bedding or furniture
These might have to be given up if they’re worth more than a reasonable replacement.
As a result of bankruptcy, someone who has been made bankrupt cannot act as a company director either directly, or indirectly through a third party e.g. a general manager. They cannot pursue legal action on behalf of any company of which they were a director.
The bankrupt must hand over his or her bank cards, cheque books and credit cards for any accounts they are no longer allowed to use. This includes any account that was overdrawn on the date of the bankruptcy.
One key question is what happens to the commercial interests at the Grand? The 18 flats owned by the Stainers (pictured), the holiday rental from which, according to Stainer, underpins the entire commercial enterprise, now ‘belong’ to the Insolvency Practitioner, as does any income from them. The companies still trading in the Grand are now without directors. So what does this mean for the employees working at the Grand? Too early to say. Mr Dante has confirmed it is his intention to maintain commercial activity at the Grand, although it is far too early to describe how this will work in practice, especially as the freeholder of the Grand, the director-less Hallam Estates Ltd, was not part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
Another key question is how does this impact on the leaseholders in the Grand? Their service charge account is owed over £275,000 by the Stainers and the immediate likelihood of this being paid seems remote.
Finally, what of Robert Richardson (pictured) – who remains on bail; like his former boss Michael Stainer, and under investigation by HMRC for potential criminal offences? He was a director of two of the liquidated companies, Keppels Cuisine Ltd and Grand-UK Ltd until July 29th 2015, that is until shortly after he and the Stainers were arrested. He has been responsible for all the trading activities within the Grand and yet not a single company he was responsible for ever made money, nor come to think of it have any of the company he oversees as manager. Does he have a future at the Grand?
So watch this space.
The Shepwayvox Team – Dissent is NOT a Crime