As I think I have previously mentioned I own c. 150,000 OEM Plc as does a chum. It is now in liquidation – although strangely I never received any formal notice that this was the case.
Anyway, pursuant to a bizarre set of events (such as Baker Tilly, the then auditors, popping up as the liquidators having replaced Hacker Young – to this day I have no idea how these appointments were made or altered), I learnt albeit by unevidenced rumour/declarations that the chief fraudster, Robert Noonan, should be and, more importantly, could be sued for £20m or so where there was a reasonable prospect of a material recovery. Having paid creditors and a handsome fee to the liquidators I fantasised at the possibility of a £3 a share dividend (say £900,000 in total). I saw the liquidators’ lawyer in Holborn in December 2014 and was advised that a case against Noonan was scheduled for the High Court in July 2015. I elected to wait – I could not practically do anything else.
So you can imagine my surprise when about two months ago I heard that the liquidator had drafted a settlement with Noonan which was subject to a Tomlin order (which can make a settlement entirely confidential). I was told that Noonan was pleading dementia/Alzheimer’s but was still driving around London. It’s been done before – think Ernest Saunders. I was also told that Baker Tilly had done nothing to get hold of Noonan in his Somerset home. Had I been the liquidator I would certainly have sought to test this dementia claim.
Anyway, I contacted a Mr Kinninmonth at Baker Tilly to check whether this settlement had occurred and thus to check that it was/is entirely kosher. There was no reply. I found this very disturbing.
It may of course be the case that a liquidator can in law be stony-faced indifferent to a shareholder’s approaches. But in the light of a potential dividend of £900,000 to a shareholder one could reasonably imagine that common courtesy would cause an acknowledgement of my approach.
However, Mr Kinninmonth was resolutely schtum. So I wrote to the ICAEW and asked them to ask Mr Kinninmonth to comment. They did nothing but, eventually, sent my letter to them on to the Insolvency Service regulator who is based in Leeds. His eventual email (I remind readers that I foresaw a disaster which had to be avoided at all costs a.s.a.p.) asked for details (when I had set them all out in my original letter) to be given in an emailed standard response. So I did this noting that the IS would reply within two weeks. Actually, they finally perked up after four weeks (why advise two weeks when there is no intention even to pretend that a self-imposed deadline had been or would be met?). But, when the reply came through, I learnt that my original letter had been passed on to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Mr Kinninmonth’s regulators. I virtually gave up.
However, late last week, I got an email from a Mr Danks who advised that he would be investigating matters. There was no mention of any urgency at all. However, he said that he is a regulatory solicitor set to see whether a complaint can reasonably be levelled by the ACCA against Mr Kinninmonth (and therefore had no intention of progressing my enquiry). All I originally sought was the courtesy of a reply from Mr Kinninmonth – above all in good time. Instead nothing has been achieved save a vast waste of time and, no doubt, a large bill being rendered by Mr Danks to the ACCA. These people are utterly pathetic. One way and another, the public pays for this useless bunch of buckpassers. I thought readers ought to know.