Dome chiefs face summons

Link: Brian Jenkins profile

David James profile

All five former directors of the company were subject to an application for a summons at Bow Street Magistrates Court on Tuesday, after Leigh Acton of the Greenwich Millennium Exhibition (GME) filed ‘informations’ against the directors.

The court adjourned to study allegations in the application and is expected to contact Acton within a week before reconvening soon after. None of the five directors was at court to respond to the application.

Applications laid before the court claimed that the directors ‘made a material omission from a statement of that company’s (NMEC) affairs in the course of a winding up, contrary to section 210 of the Insolvency Act 1986’. GME was a creditor to the NMEC.

‘There is several hundred million of Millennium Commission money which now is not shown at all on the statement of accounts,’ Acton told the court. ‘Several hundred million was also put into the land, this is now valued at nil. There was a £25m grant from the Millennium Commission that they decided to declare as a non-asset.

Our chartered accountant expert completely disagrees with that. The purpose of the proceeding is to bring to light (what went on) and it would certainly have the effect of feeding into civil action,’ continued Acton.

However, the district judge was unwilling to issue a summons on the day saying it was ‘not something I’ve had personal knowledge of’. ‘One doesn’t issue a summons lightly,’ he said before announcing his intention to adjourn because of a lack of expert knowledge and time restraints.

He described the allegations as ‘grave and serious matters’ and went on to say that ‘Mr Acton can expect to hear from the court within the week for some progress’.

Should a summons be issued, the five directors of NMEC – David James, Sir Brian Jenkins, Robin Hewes, David Quarmby and Len Duvall – face the prospect of criminal prosecution for an offence that carries a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment. In another case, the NMEC is waiting to hear whether its liquidation of the company has been ruled invalid.

In this action, GME in the High Court alleges that neither Lord Falconer or Peter Mandelson were ever properly registered as the government’s sole shareholder in NMEC.

As a result, Lord Falconer should not have been able to place the company into liquidation and the procedure is therefore nullified, according to the claim. In fact, Lord Falconer was registered as a shareholder but only after a retrospective order was granted on 19 April 2002.

Mr Justice Collins, who presided over the case in the High Court on 1 July, is expected to give a ruling later this month.

GME wants the liquidation nullified or it cannot continue with a claim against NMEC amounting to £34m for ‘wrongful interference’ with GME’s business.

The National Audit Office has already passed judgement on the winding up of the New Millennium Experience Company when it published a report in April of last year.

Comptroller and auditor general Sir John Bourn complemented the way the process was carried out in the midst of fraud allegations and a lack of detailed records of the company’s assets.

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David James

The high-profile company doctor and troubleshooter is better known for being drafted in to sort out the finances at the Millennium Dome, but his 44-year career spans a variety of industries, roles and projects, writes Michelle Perry. Appointed as executive chairman of the New Millennium Experience Company between September 2000 and December 2001, James, 65, has since been involved with other high-profile projects, such as the procurement for the new national stadium and WestLB’s bid for Railtrack.

Although much of his work has involved going into troubled companies, his most recent appointment was as chairman to Racecourse Holdings Trust on 7 April. James said his reasons for taking on the job were founded in his passion for horse racing and not problem solving.

Sir Brian Jenkins

Appointed a non-executive director of the New Millennium Experience Company in February 1997, chartered accountant Sir Brian Jenkins chaired the company’s audit committee, writes Adriana Zea. At the time, Sir Brian was chairman of the Woolwich Building Society, where he had been since 1994, so witnessed close at hand its flotation in the spring of 1997 and former chief executive Peter Robinson’s resignation. Sir Brian is well-known throughout the accountancy profession, having been a senior partner of Coopers & Lybrand before his move to the Woolwich in 1994. He is also a former president of the ICAEW. Lord Mayor of London in 1992, Sir Brian was also vice-president of the London Chamber of Commerce. He is currently deputy chairman of Barclays bank.

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