Claims management group Rebus falls into administration

REBUS, the tax avoidance claims group that is said to have been managing more than £930m in business, has collapsed and gone into administration.

The insolvency process is being managed by practitioners from London-based firm ReSolve.

Last year, more than 100 people poured money into the claims management practice via a crowdfunding platform, making it one of the most successful British fundraising rounds on the site.

According to Rebus’ website, the firm is currently managing over 1,700 claims against tax avoidance schemes that were packaged and mis-sold as complex investments.

The firm employs 29 people, including chairman Adrian Cox, who served as Ask Jeeves European CEO in 2001. In 2014, Rebus appointed former HMRC man Graham Webber as its head of professional relations.

Since its formation in 2010, Rebus has been heavily involved in recouping money from failed tax avoidance schemes. In 2014 the company launched a service specifically aimed at recouping losses for investors who were mis-sold the Icebreaker tax avoidance scheme.

The Rebus Icebreaker Settlement Entity (RISE) was created to act as a “collective voice” for investors involved in the tax avoidance arrangement, which was used by Take That stars Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen.

Michael Avient, head of London Investigations at accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, told Accountancy Age that he believes Rebus’ downfall can be attributed to its failure to recover claims against financial advisers and failing to consolidate settlements with HMRC.

Avient feels that “the amount of time and money it takes to run large group investigations” will have certainly been a factor in its collapse, causing multiple headaches for all of its clients.

“The administrators are seeking for people to buy the business, but what’s worrying for Rebus’ clients is that all their claims are subject to very tight timelines, and these timelines won’t stop just because Rebus is unable to provide any further advice.” 

Rebus is not the only crowdfunded firm to shut down recently. In November 2015, mini-drone company Zano collapsed after raising £2.3m on Kickstarter.

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