North Wales hotel owner Gavin Woodhouse could face Serious Fraud Office investigation after politicians ask for probe

Original by Owen Hughes, North Wales Live - https://www.dailypost.co.uk/business/business-news/north-wales-hotel-ow…

The specialist fraud unit said it was 'aware of the allegations' against his businesses

 

The Serious Fraud Office is considering whether to investigate Gavin Woodhouse's hotel and care home businesses.

Mr Woodhouse, who owns four North Wales hotels, has seen his businesses come under scrutiny over the way he has funded the multi-million pound schemes.

This week a probe started into the finances of his company Northern Powerhouse Developments Limited after insolvency practitioners Duff & Phelps were appointed interim managers by the High Court.

The new court order followed an earlier appointment of Philip Duffy and Sarah Bell as temporary managers of Gavin Woodhouse companies MBI Hawthorn Care Limited, MBI Clifton Moor Limited and Afan Valley Limited.

Now Labour MP John Mann, a long-standing member of parliament’s Treasury select committee, has referred Mr Woodhouse's businesses to the Serious Fraud Office(SFO).

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price is also in the process of writing to the fraud unit to ask for an "immediate inquiry".

AM Janet Finch-Saunders is set to raise the issue in the Senedd with the four North Wales hotels within her Aberconwy constituency. 

Hotels owned by the company - Caer Rhun Hall in the Conwy Valley, Belmont, Llandudno Bay and Queens hotels in Llandudno - will continue to operate as normal and Duff and Phelps made clear the company was not in administration.

The SFO said it was "aware of the allegations" and was assessing whether they would investigate.

Mr Woodhouse said: "I am unable to comment in detail on matters that are the subject of ongoing court proceedings. I hope to address the issues raised publicly when I am able to do so."

An SFO spokesperson said: “We are aware of the allegations.

"As a matter of policy and in common with other law enforcement we cannot confirm whether we are investigating in these circumstances.

“All matters referred to the SFO are assessed against criteria to establish whether they may fall within its remit to investigate. The SFO does not comment on the progress of such assessments.”

The appointment of Duff and Phelps as interim managers follows an application with the high court in London by seven investors who had invested in the companies owned by Gavin Woodhouse.

Duff and Phelps said the move will enable the interim managers to secure the assets of the company while enabling a detailed assessment and forensic investigation into the company's finances.

Philip Duffy, interim manager, said: “The most recently filed accounts of the initial three companies we were appointed to show them to all be insolvent on a balance sheet basis, so naturally creditor investors have been very concerned that they were not going to get their money back.

“Our appointment by the Court over a weekend illustrates the seriousness of this case. 

"It was absolutely essential we were appointed to act as interim managers on one of the main companies, Northern Powerhouse Developments Limited, so that we could gain access to its financial history."

Philip Duffy added: “This case has had considerable media interest over the past few days and as such we are aware that there are hundreds of other creditor investors.

"If any of those creditors wish to contact us, we have set up a dedicated email address and phone number.”

Northern Powerhouse Developments(NPD) have always strongly denied doing anything wrong.