Tuesday 3 November 2020

Tangled webs

As we wait for news from the police and CPS over the council's Wellness scandal, we'll take a look at how some of the key players, some of whom were sacked or suspended for gross misconduct from Swansea Uni, are faring. And former CEO Mark James while we're at it.

As we know Mark James' new company, Ffynnon Consultancy, turned quite a modest profit this year, quite remarkable given its infancy and total lack of online presence. Currently embroiled in the forged signature scandal at Century Wharf, it looks like Warwick Estates, who manage the complex on behalf of the Right To Manage (RTM) company, have been given the push. 

Who will replace Warwick estates? Well the Chair of the RTM, Mr James, already has a vehicle in place, Building Estate Solutions Today Ltd (BEST Ltd) of which he is a co-director with Steve Corner. It is understood that BEST Ltd is already touting for business across various sites down the Bay. (Update - see later post Century Wharf - Mark James' take-over bid - Mark James formed yet another company in December 2020, CW Estates Management which has, as of March 1st 2021, taken over from Warwick. He is still a director of the RTM, and it is the RTM who just happen to have appointed CW Estates Management, his own company. Fancy that!)
Marc Clement, sacked along with Swansea Uni vice-chancellor Richard Davies, is never more than a stone's throw from Mr James and it is rumoured that a director of a firm of surveyors, believed to have moved on site also happens to be a director of another company, Ellamel Holdings Ltd, along with none other than Marc Clement.

We also know that Mark James' friends in Llangennech, ERS Ltd, happen to be contracted by the RTM to provide telephone services to Century Wharf. An associated company of ERS Ltd is Hydro Industries Ltd. Robert Lovering, David Pickering (of rugby fame) and Wayne Preece are, or were (like the rest of them, they change directorships more often than their socks), the directors at Hydro and were 'introduced' to the 'bounties' of the City Deal by Marc Clement and Mark James before the wellness s**t hit the fan.

Another former employee of Swansea Uni, and council project manager for the Wellness Village, Bjorn Rodde, who resigned after suspension, managed very quickly to get gainful employment with the very same Hydro Ltd and is now Chief Operating Officer at St Joseph's private hospital in Newport. It is understood that both Marc Clement and Franz Dickmann (remember him?) have been involved with the hospital, which, incidentally only avoided collapse earlier this year through an anonymous donation and being 'repackaged' by the Administrators.

Steven Poole, meanwhile, also sacked for gross misconduct, is now a Director of newly formed Sirius Genesis Ltd, and various sister companies, alongside assorted academics and, at Sirius Genesis Beta Ltd, which deals in the leasing of intellectual property, our old friend Marc Clement. Mr Poole is also involved in companies with Ruth Clement, including Llwyn Country House Ltd, currently in liquidation.

Marc Clement, along with Llanelli businessman Kevin Smith (not associated with Swansea Uni), formed a 'financial intermediary' company, Alpha Life Science Advisory Ltd earlier this year, with a base in Guernsey.  Clement resigned from the appointment a couple of weeks later. The company has now changed its name to Alpha Advisory Board Ltd, and Mr Smith, and Guernsey based company JTC are the remaining directors.

Kevin Smith, who was a former director of Sterling Health, Dickmann's company, runs another company, Cambrian Ventures Ltd. The only other company of this name appears to be trading in Singapore, whether its the same one I don't know. However, Cambrian Ventures Ltd is also a shareholder in another newly formed company called Skin Logistics Ltd, specialising in the world of Botox. 
One of the directors of Skin Logistics is...Marc Clement.

Kevin Smith was, along with Marc Clement, a director of Respiratory Innovation Wales. The intention was to set up shop at the Wellness Village until Swansea Uni raised serious concerns and a Welsh Government grant was pulled. It is understood that Ifan Evans, the Welsh Government City Deal official had more than a passing acquaintance with some of the key players. 

Both Smith and Clement resigned from the company. RIW has now re-established itself and with its base at the Beacon Centre (the City Deal HQ) Llanelli, appears to be involved in the Wellness Village, or Pentre Awel as its now known. 

Marc Clement was a director of Kent Neurosciences Ltd, (KNS), Dickmann's company, resigning in 2015. In 2016 Mark James brought KNS Ltd in, exclusively (no tender), to develop the Wellness Village. This was despite the fact that Dickmann, and his son James Dickmann, had recently been involved with the development of a private hospital in Kent, and had just resigned from the Board leaving the hospital requiring an urgent £20m bailout.

That little agreement quietly fizzled out and KNS dissolved. It re-emerged as Sterling (along with several variant sister companies) and in 2018 was trumpeted by Mark James as the new developers of the £200m Wellness Village, as if no one would notice it was the same company

There were, as you can imagine, no other bidders to spoil Mark and Marc's plan...Sterling, at this point, were £137k in debt.. The whole Dickmann family was lined up to profit from the Village, even the planned creche.

This, as I understand it, is the tender that the police have been investigating.

                     Signing of the Wellness Deal 2018, L to R: Mrs Dickmann, Mark James, 
                     VC Richard Davies, Emlyn Dole, Franz Dickmann, Marc Clement 

Marc Clement meanwhile had formed another company, Vardiola Ltd with another Swansea academic Georgios Dimitropoulos and, by branching out into the hotel business, had his sights firmly set on running the Wellness Hotel. Ruth Clement, mentioned above, whose registered address was the same as Marc Clement's is a director of companies related to hotels and leisure. Two directors of one of those companies, Robert James Holland and Nigel Jenkins of Birturk Enterprises, are also directors of Ellamel Holdings Ltd, as also mentioned above, with Marc Clement.

Dimitropoulos was also a director of 4The Region which became the de facto PR company for the City Deal, without any formal tendering process.

Somewhere along the timeline, planned private medical schools in Swansea and Kuwait emerged, tied to both Swansea Uni and, through the city deal, to Carmarthenshire Council. Neither body were aware of the details which involved Marc Clement, the sacked vice chancellor Richard Davies and Mark James, as a trustee, and, of course, Franz Dickmann and Sterling Health. 

The allegations were again related to promises of personal gain. James made no mention of this role to the Council. Nor any other role for that matter. Emlyn Dole was either a complete fool or knew exactly what was going on.

As the whole mess went into meltdown, these companies, and along with the plans, all dissolved, nearly torpedoing the whole City Deal. 
If it wasn't for the diligence and persistence of Swansea University exposing what had happened and reporting matters to the authorities, it would have all drifted merrily along. And, dare I say, the persistence of a blogger or two played its part. 

Marc Clement is no stranger to controversy, see here, and here, and neither is Mark James. 

Mark James, as logged throughout this blog, was not averse to pocketing public funds, helping out his 'friends', tax avoidance, conflicts of interest, destroying his critics with his own slush fund, outright dishonesty; all driven by personal gain. From Boston to Carmarthenshire.
With supreme arrogance, he brought his own personal solicitors, Acuity Law, into the council in a miserable attempt to clear his tracks over the Wellness tender. 

He is now, as we know, a suspect.
However, we know that not only was Mr James' home raided by the police in July 2019, and that of former leader Meryl Gravell, but so was County Hall. The police were retrieving deleted data from the server room. 
The organised crime squad, Tarian, issued this statement earlier this year; "Eight people have been interviewed as suspects, all of whom remain under investigation. Further enquiries as part of this complex investigation are ongoing. Extensive examination of a significant number of seized documents and electronic equipment also continues."

A trip down the endless rabbit hole of Companies House shows there are many more connections, but the point is that this is a very small group of people in a very tangled web, with some currently under police investigation for bribery and fraud offences, the allegations of corruption have been tracked through this blog.
There is, of course, nothing illegal about setting up a company, and, alongside those suspected of fraud etc are perfectly legitimate businesses, business people and academics. 

The police, we were told, are investigating the tender for the Wellness Village and that it is a very complex investigation. There are many ways to hide evidence, and many ways to game it, and it is also likely to take a long time.

Given the snapshot above, you can see why.

Update 19th May 2021
After less than a year, Clement resigned his directorship of Sirius Generis Beta Ltd on March 19th 2021. Still playing fast and loose on Companies House, he formed yet another company on the 31st March, Cambrian Technologies Ltd of which he is the sole director.

One of Mark James' companies, CW Estates Ltd, took over from Warwick Estates to manage Century Wharf at the beginning of April. As he is still Chair of the Right To Manage Company, he has a direct conflict of interest. He is also a crook. They have been warned.

Update 23rd June 2021
Clement's latest company, Cambrian Technologies Ltd now has another director, none other than  Steven Poole (see also main post), also sacked from Swansea Uni for gross misconduct. (As of 30th June 2021 Poole resigned as director of Sirius Genesis...)

Clement is now also a director of Blue360, part of a group dealing in laser cosmetics. His old mate Llanelli-based Kevin Smith, formerly a director of Dickmann's Sterling Health and now, as Cambrian Ventures Ltd, joins the list of directors at Blue360....

Stop press...there's another one, Blue360 International Ltd incorporated on the 23rd June with 'Professor' Marc Clement listed as a director. There's no stopping the man, he can, at a price, iron out your wrinkles, remove unwanted hair and even zap airborne Covid.....allegedly.

In Mark James news,  the RTM and CW Estates Management, both of which are controlled by Mark James have contracted Ringley Group Ltd to provide the estate's operating systems, on a franchise basis.  I had heard some time ago that Ringley were being selected personally by James, with no say from anyone else, and with his track record, I wonder why....


Anonymous said...

Why settle for a single simple company when you can set up numerous ones to hide what you are up too and with who

The only think missing was none seem to be registered in the British Virgin islands

But there plenty of time to do so

Watch out for this is in the wellness centre

caebrwyn said...

Anon 21:30
Yes, plenty of time for offshore companies, if the thing ever gets off the ground. In fact I seem to remember that the ultimate parent of one of Franz Dickmann's companies relating to the Kent private hospital (mentioned above) was domiciled in the British Virgin Islands.

Redhead said...

We have something similar in my part of the world - a collection of tourist businesses that keep changing names, changing ownership, changing directors, changing funding bankers, going bankrupt, bought up again in a merry-go-round - but the same half dozen people (or their partners or children) buying and selling them to each other, often with taxhaven, Eastern European and/or Middle Eastern connections. The police were made aware but have done nothing. They prefer to concentrate on catching shoplifters desperate for a bit of food for their kids.

Anonymous said...

It is estimated that an odd 3billion has gone missing from the furlough scheme
The Govt has just expanded it
Many of these companies were fronts for fraudsters

There is no good reason to have blind companies hosted by small islands in the Caribbean

In fact public bodies - Councils and WG should refuse to deal with such entities as a default position

caebrwyn said...

Yes that is so often the case, I've seen it here several times, even before the Wellness scandal.
I'm hoping that isn't the case here. As far as I know, and there are a few details I can't disclose yet, the police are taking this seriously. Though what will happen in the long run remains to be seen.

I agree, it should be the default position. Unfortunately due diligence and objectivity seem to be often sadly lacking.

Unknown said...

I commend you for your investigate work. You and Jac of the North should get your hands on one of Mr James slush funds and open an investigation bureau. You both do a better job than the police, legal sector, Welsh press and media and regulating bodies. Yet nobody takes a blind bit of notice here in Gwalia Derelicta

caebrwyn said...

The business case for Pentre Awel (the renamed Wellness sauna-on-the-swamp) has been discussed and approved by the council in private. It is now on the agenda for Thursday's City Deal Joint Committee, again the public and press will be thrown out, virtually of course.
All that will be publicly available is a glossy PR powerpoint presentation, and as we know from before, they can hide a multitude of sins.
No other City Deal business case has been discussed by any other individual council with such secrecy.
It is shocking that Carmarthernshire residents are barred from finding out the nitty gritty of this ridiculous, scandal-ridden project before it's approved, and what exactly its going to cost them.

Anonymous said...

With Carmarthewnshire's shoe in CEO also in charge of the governance of the Swanasea City region deal - such sharp practices continue there as well

The City Region have just had a review into its mechanisms so how does this non disclosure fit into that and how can the people of the region have confidence in its management structure

Anonymous said...

As is well known in Swansea University circles, Marc Clement was the “driving force” behind the ill fated Technium Projects, with the then Welsh Development Agency. The deal was that EU capital grants paid for these “iconic” buildings to be constructed, and subsequently EU revenue paid for the “after management” of the buildings for three years. Who carried out the lucrative after management? Step forward Marc Clement/Swansea Uni. After the EU revenue payments expired, the Uni walked and the Technium projects mostly fell apart (The so called Auto Technium at Dafen being handed over to Carmarthenshire County Council as offices - Meryl and Edwina were very close in those days!). Another interesting story is that any fledgling companies being “spun out” of the Uni. into the Swansea (SA1 based) Techniums were required to favour Mr Clement with some shares, as a condition of his approval to the proposed letting. Mr Clement has sailed close to the wind over many years, and his former colleagues in the Uni. are taking a measure of satisfaction that some of his wizard wheezes have been and are continuing to be exposed.