|Are the Takeover Panel proud of assisting these crooks?
Property investor faces jail after theft admission
By Nikki Tait, Law Courts Correspondent
Published: April 25 2006 03:00 | Last updated: April 25 2006 03:00
Gerald Smith, the property investor and former director of Orb Estates, is facing a jail sentence after entering a last-minute plea of guilty to 11 charges of theft and false accounting at Blackfriars crown court yesterday.
The counts, dating back to events in 2002, to which Mr Smith pleaded guilty included a charge that he stole £8m from Izodia, the failed e-commerce software company previously known as Infobank, which was formerly listed on the Alternative Investment Market.
Orb, a Jersey-based investment company that took in a range of business interests, including the world-famous Poole Pottery and the Dolphin Quays, was Izodia's largest shareholder in 2002 and 2003.
Its offices in London and St Helier, Jersey, were raided in December 2002 when the Serious Fraud Office said it was "conducting an investigation into an allegation of unlawful appropriation of money belonging to Izodia and possible related offences".
Izodia hit a peak market value of £1.7bn in March 2000 and raised £130m from City institutions a month later. By mid-2002, it was a cash shell holding £33m, which later disappeared. Although Orb's stake never rose above 29.9 per cent, it had effective boardroom control. Izodia was delisted from Aim in November 2003.
Mr Smith's pleas came just before a six- to eight-week trial involving himself and Jarlath Vahey, an Orb employee, had been due to start.
Mr Smith was facing 14 charges in total, including two counts of conspiracy to defraud to which he did not enter a guilty plea.
Yesterday morning a prospective jury panel was selected. Most appeared visibly relieved when, only hours later, Judge George Bathurst-Norman explained that pleas had been entered to the prosecution's satisfaction.
He said that they were therefore "off the hook" as far as hearing the fraud case was concerned.
Jonathan Caplan QC, representing the SFO, told the court that in the light of Mr Smith's pleas the prosecution had reconsidered the case against Mr Vahey, who had faced only the two charges of conspiracy to defraud.
The barrister asked the counts against Mr Vahey to remain on file, but they are unlikely to be proceeded with.
Sentencing of Mr Smith is expected to take place on May 25, after pre-sentence reports have been compiled.
But Judge Bathurst-Norman warned Mr Smith: "This matter is so serious that a custodial sentence is inevitable."|
|In liquidation apparently from 16/01/04.
|any body any news on this one or know how to contact the company?|
|same question. Anyone?????|
|same question ??|
|does this co still exist ??? any info anyone...|
|Extract below taken from money.telegraph. I presume the companies referred to are subsidiaries of Quays Holdings as acquired from Orb.
Former Orb subsidiaries in receivership
By Carolyn Batt (Filed: 25/06/2003)
Homebuyers hoping to take possession of luxury flats at Poole, Dorset, could lose their deposits after two companies until recently controlled by Jersey-based Orb were placed in administrative receivership.
The Royal Bank of Scotland has appointed partners of Price Waterhouse Coopers to manage Poole Developments and Dolphin Quay Developments after the companies were crippled by cash-flow problems.
The Orb subsidiaries were behind Poole's Dolphin Quay Waterside development, involving 105 apartments costing up to £1.25m each and 70,000 squ ft. of retail space.
PWC partner Barry Gilbertson said yesterday: "The various difficulties of Orb have been well-documented. It seems those difficulties caused the companies not to have enough money to pay the building contractor on the project, Taylor Woodrow."
He said Taylor Woodrow suspended work earlier this month and "that caused nervousness at the bank, which appointed administrative receivers."
Contracts had been exchanged on 85 apartments, with buyers paying an average deposit of 10pc. Mr Gilbertson said: "There is a risk they will lose their money." He added: "We're struggling to find out exactly who the directors of these companies are."|
|Quays subsidiaries have now gone bust I think. This company had a very short life on AIM indeed; must be something of a record!!|
|Atlantic Caspian (ACA) suspended too.|
|More bad news surrounding Orb. Little closer (too close!) to home for QYG shareholders.
The continuing saga surrounding secretive property firm Orb Estates has taken a new twist after it emerged that the Serious Fraud Office has been probing the company's plans to transform Poole harbourside in Dorset.
|Long article in The Observer:
|Orb at it again at Thistle Hotels, another £11M missing
|The Scotland on Sunday article in Skracer's link is incomplete; it only contains the stuff on the front page of the Business Section.
It continues inside,
(Charles Helvert, the chairman) of Quays and formerly of Alexanders, was unavailable for comment.
Orb is currently involved in a serious dispute with Izodia, the listed cash shell at the centre of a fraud investigation. Izodia has issued a claim against Orb believed to run into tens of millions of pounds.
In December Izodia said that the Serious Fraud Office, in conjunction with
Thames Valley Police and authorities in Jersey, was investigating an allegation of unlawful appropriation of funds belonging to the former e-commerce company.
Orb is also involved in a legal wrangle with Thistle Hotels over money allegedly owed after the Group bought 37 of Thistle's Hotels in March.
Quays Group was formed last year after Alexanders Holdings acquired properties at Poole, Dorset, from the real estate group Orb in a reverse takeover that gave Orb a 75.1% stake in the enlarged Alexanders Group, which was renamed Quays.
During that deal, Corporate Synergy was told by the Takeover Panel to step down as an adviser to Alexanders shareholders over the offer.
The Panel's ruling came after it said Corporate Synergy was "not sufficiently independent" from Orb, having previously acted for the company in a separate transaction.
Announcing its interim results in December, Quays said that it had made a pre-tax profit of £213,000 in the six months to September.
The company said that it expected to make a "substantial" profit in 2003 before goodwill amortisation on its pre-sold residential apartments, which are due for completion starting April 2003.
Alexanders became a cash shell after selling off its car dealerships in the 1990s. It sold its last Ford dealership, in Kirkintilloch, in 1999. It had opened Ford's first dealership North of the Border in 1910.
All done with the connivance and assistance of the Takeover Panel too, despite Charlie's best efforts, grrr!
ISTR that, a couple of years back, some Tory MPs were lobbying for Panel decisions to be given absolute "safe harbour" status too.
Rip-off Britain, where the regulators facilitate the rip-offs!
|The end of the road ?|
|Looks like the end of Quays as a listed company doesn't it! Not the best AIM listing this one!|
|Considering the risk that the assets purchased from Orb are a ripoff, and that the remaining cash has gone walkies, it is surprising that QYG holdings still has a significant market value.|
|Izodia (IZO) The money's gone.
From RNS Number:0545G
( http://www.advfn.com/cmn/news/newsmona.php?article=4003089&epic=IZO )
Following a preliminary investigation, it is clear that all but a small
proportion of the Company's cash holdings are no longer under the Company's
control. The exact whereabouts of the Company's funds are still being
investigated. However, it has been established that most of the Company's funds
have been transferred to associates of Orb a.r.l. The Company's solicitors have
been instructed to take appropriate action to recover the Company's funds.|
|This one looks a bit of a dead duck to me. Note the resignation of the company's broker. Something has gone badly wrong at Orb Estates if you ask me. As always DYOR, but I'm glad i didn't touch this one.|
|" The paper (Independent) also says yesterday the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) carried out raids at offices of property company Orb Estates, after allegations were made that funds were stolen from software makers Izodia, in which Orb is a major shareholder". (Nothing Ventured).|
|Purple, on paper it may seem good value, but it is an illusion. The remaining cash is going to be converted into properties and improvements to properties. Then how do you value the assets? You cant rely on value based on historical cost as will appear in the Balance Sheet because the initial "price" paid may well not have been realistic. My concern is the competency of the Directors which has been clearly shown to be lacking. There are ruthless operators in the property business who could run rings round this bunch, in fact they may already have done so. Watch the cash go down, the debt appear, followed a couple of years later by asset write-downs. The directors may just have demonstrated how clever they are by getting into the property market at the top, and even then paying too much. AVOID|
|You can go to prison for trying to commit a crime e.g. attempted murder!
The shares are currently good value (discount to assets) but the intrinsic value is a lot less than the 25p cash we could have got!
Hold / Weak Buy|
|Can you go to prison for trying to commit a crime?
If you try to break the speed limit on your bicycle and fail ....|
Given you were opposed to the Quay deal right from the start, have you sold now, or do you think now we're stuck with the deal we ought to see it through and hope the shares go up?
|The Directors in this deal should be sent to prison!
29 August 2002
THE TAKEOVER PANEL
ALEXANDERS HOLDINGS PLC
(now renamed Quays Group PLC)
On 4 July, Alexanders Holdings PLC (now renamed Quays Group PLC, "Alexanders")
issued a circular to its shareholders seeking, among other matters, approval for
the acquisition of certain assets from Orb Estates PLC ("Orb Estates"), approval
for the issue of shares to Orb Estates in consideration and approval of the
waiver by the Panel of the obligation under Rule 9 of the Code that would
otherwise have arisen for Orb Estates to make a general offer for Alexanders.
Alexanders was advised by Corporate Synergy PLC ("Corporate Synergy").
Following the issue of the Alexanders circular, the Executive was contacted by a
shareholder in Alexanders who raised a number of issues in connection with the
transaction. As a result of its investigation into these issues, the Executive
* Corporate Synergy was not sufficiently independent from Orb Estates to
provide independent advice to the Alexanders board and must therefore step down
as the Rule 3 adviser to Alexanders for the purposes of the transaction;
* if the transaction was to proceed, a new independent adviser must be
appointed and a further circular sent to Alexanders' shareholders; and
* the annual general meeting of Alexanders' shareholders convened to
consider the transaction must be adjourned pending the issue of the new
On 1 August, Alexanders issued a supplemental circular to its shareholders
containing advice from the new Rule 3 adviser. This circular also informed
* one of the directors of Alexanders was not considered by the Executive
to be independent for the purposes of the transaction and would therefore no
longer form part of the Alexanders board's recommendation to shareholders;
* a major shareholder in Alexanders was not considered to be independent
and had undertaken not to vote on the resolution to approve the waiver of Rule 9
as a result of certain connections with the ultimate controller of Orb Estates;
* an agreement entered into between Mr Humm, one of the directors of
Alexanders, under which Mr Humm had agreed to sell his Alexanders shares, had
Following the publication of the supplemental circular, an appeal was made by
the shareholder in Alexanders against the decision of the Executive to grant a
waiver of Rule 9 of the Code. The Panel dismissed the appeal. Nonetheless, the
Executive regards the need for the additional disclosures and amendments to the
original circular as unsatisfactory, and believes that responsibility for this
must lie to a large extent with Corporate Synergy as the financial adviser to
The Code places great emphasis on the importance of an offeree company obtaining
competent independent advice and on the need for parties and their advisers to
consult the Executive on matters involving interpretation of the Code. This is
particularly important in a case involving the proposed grant of a waiver from a
Rule 9 obligation.
Corporate Synergy failed adequately to consult the Executive in relation to the
issue of its own independence and to the proposed share sale by Mr Humm. In the
Executive's view, this conduct falls short of the standards required of advisers
involved in a Code transaction and Corporate Synergy is criticised accordingly.
29 August 2002
Note: Corporate Synergy is a subsidiary of Corporate Synergy Holdings PLC
which was acquired on 24 July by Mountcashel PLC
(since renamed Abingdon Capital PLC).
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange