Lee Bramzell IVA Non-Disclosure.
We recently wrote an article about the Lee Bramzell IVA in which we said it was passed with 79% of the vote. LINK to article here. We were wrong. An IVA needs 75% of creditors to support it in order for it to succeed. The actual votes cast in favour of the IVA at the meeting was 75.24%. That’s what you call winning by the skin of your teeth.
The difference was due to the fact that some key supporters of Lee Bramzell did not cast their vote. These were led by Lee Bramzell’s long-term ally and business partner Emmanuel Ezekiel. He represented Scott Cole, St James Investment Trust, Gary Weber, Weber Investment Properties Ltd and Sharon Woolf (J.B.W Pension). A fine and trustworthy body if ever there was one. Very long-term and close associates of Lee Bramzell.
The feeling amongst some of those who opposed the IVA was that this group had been informed in advance that the IVA was going to scrape through so did not need to cast their votes. We have been advised that some of Ezekiel’s group, including Mr Ezekiel himself, have charges over Mr Bramzell’s assets. Had they voted it would have affected their ability to enforce those charges. It was important to them that they knew whether or not the vote would pass without their votes.
The opposition group feel that some creditors who also had charges were tricked into voting to support the IVA believing that Mr Ezekiel’s group would do the same. The deceit never stops where Shepherd Cox directors are concerned. The 79% figure we quoted was because Purnells stated that the Ezekiel group said that “they would have voted in favour of the IVA”. But the fact is that they did not vote, thereby preserving their privileged position. There must be quite a few creditors who feel they’ve been royally stitched up by Lee Bramzell’s closest creditor friends and those who rallied them to support the IVA.
We also described in our previous article about the Lee Bramzell IVA Non-Disclosure. He did not inform Purnells of the existence of a winding up petition which, if upheld, would have serious repercussions in terms of Mr Bramzell’s ability to make the payments he estimated he could make to creditors.
We wrote to Purnells and referred them to our article. Purnells then wrote out to creditors informing them of the existence of the petition and that they had now spoken to Lee Bramzell who advised them that one of his staff had sent him an email containing the petition on the day before the hearing. Well, that’s true, but it is a very selective account of events. It appears from the Purnells letter that they had not, at any time, been informed of either the threat or the existence of a winding up petition.
We have seen emails confirming that Mr Bramzell was informed a petition would be filed against SCH Sunderland. The first email was sent on 18th July 2021 and was acknowledged by Mr Bramzell. He was then sent a copy of the draft petition on 21st July which was also acknowledged by him. He was sent the final petition on 26th July 2021. It appears that Mr Bramzell didn’t declare that sequence of events to Purnells either. We believe the petition has a strong chance of being successful because the debt fell due pre-Covid and had already been part-paid.
We weren’t impressed by the sentence in the Purnell’s letter which read “For whatever reason this information was not provided, by anyone, to the Joint Nominees until after the creditors meeting”. There is only one person who is legally obliged to inform Purnells of any development which affects the IVA Proposal and that person is Lee Bramzell. If the petition was sent to Mr Bramzell in order to test his honesty with creditors then he failed miserably. It does not bode well for the future.
In contrast, Luqa Ltd sent an email to Purnell’s just before the hearing which was circulated to creditors. Lee Bramzell sent out a detailed response to that email two hours before the hearing. He had to deal with the Luqa email because it had been circulated, but he had chosen to keep quiet about the winding up petition. He could easily have added a line to his Luqa response stating that he had recently been served with a winding up petition over SCH Sunderland.
Surprisingly, instead of stating that the IVA had failed for due to the Lee Bramzell IVA non-disclosure of important material potentially affecting his ability to make payments, Purnells decided to uphold the vote and is asking creditors if knowledge of the petition would have affected the way they voted. Errrr…. isn’t the IVA process clear ? Debtor discloses all relevant facts – creditors vote. If debtor covers up the extent of his debt or does not disclose all relevant information, the vote for the IVA should be failed. Non-disclosure is a criminal offence. You can’t just ignore it like it’s a minor issue.
To add further insult to 240+ ordinary hotel room investors who lost more than £15m at the hands of Lee Bramzell, Purnells decided to allocate them £6 worth of voting rights. £15.2m of claims against Lee Bramzell were reduced to a value of £6 for voting purposes. This was in stark contract to Nick Carlile’s IVA where the full value of £15.2m was allocated for voting purposes.
Purnells took legal advice on whether they could do this and they admitted that the advice was that each of the six Shepherd Cox companies’ claims could be valued at £1 under insolvency law “unless the Chair decided to put a higher value on them”. Their words. The Chair had discretion to recognise the losses of 240+ investors which averaged out at around £63,000 each. The Chair of the Nick Carlile IVA allowed those claims at full value. The Chair of Lee Bramzell’s IVA chose to value every £63,000 loss at 2.5 pence each.
Purnells will be paid £50,000 over the next 5 years if Lee Bramzell’s IVA goes through.