Changtel Solutions went into liquidation owing at least £42m to HMRC, a document published on Companies House has revealed.
A report filed by Changtel Solutions' liquidator Begbies Traynor claims that the money owed to HMRC is triple the initial £14m estimate, and CRN understands the figure is likely to increase. Begbies Traynor says it is unsure of the outcome for creditors.
The report states: "Unsecured creditors were initially estimated at £16.3m, which included an estimated liability to HMRC of £14.3m. We have subsequently received one claim amounting to £2m and HMRC have, in line with our expectation, submitted interim proof of debt in the sum of £43,025,639.04."
Changtel, formerly known as Enta Technologies Limited, entered the winding-up process in June 2013, but in the December of that year company assets were transferred by the management team to Entatech UK Limited, now owned by Stevinson Capital.
However, insolvency laws suggest that these transactions are void, with the report showing that so far £2m of these assets have been recovered. Some £2.8m has also been paid into the liquidation estate from Changtel's bank accounts.
The report stated: "It was evident from several press reports and documentations exhibited together with witness statements submitted in the winding-up proceedings that the company's [Changtel] business and assets, including the freehold property at Stafford Park 6, were transferred to a connected entity, Entatech UK Limited, around December 2013. This transfer gave risk to various claims under the provisions of the [Insolvency] Act.
"Following a period of negotiations with Entatech's management team, a settlement was reached in respect of such claims. Payments due under the settlement are up to date."
The document shows that Stevinson's Entatech paid HMRC £570,000 in a settlement agreed in February this year, with further payments due.
Speaking to CRN, Dave Stevinson, who joined in Enta in March 2015, emphasised his company's distance from Changtel.
"I have gone to great lengths and expense to fundamentally change the company culture to one of integrity and transparency - with a new governance programme and values. Critical to this has been our ERP system, new auditors and the introduction of a fresh leadership team," he said.
"Given the high profile of the claim, it was felt that a settlement would bring a quicker and cheaper resolution allowing Entatech to move forward and escape the association with Changtel. Thus I can confirm that the statement by the liquidators of Changtel is correct reflecting the payments made to date in respect of a full and final settlement agreement (The precise terms of which are subject to a confidentiality agreement)."
CRN understands that the nature of the dispute relates to alleged 'carousel' or 'missing trader' fraud.
The basic principle of this type of fraud is for a trader to fraudulently claim to have exported goods to a foreign country where VAT would not be charged. The trader would sell the goods domestically and claim the VAT money, but not pay it.
Enta Group founder Jason Tsai did not respond to CRN's requests for comment.
An HMRC representative said: "We do not comment on identifiable taxpayers or businesses."
Rich Marsden, managing director of VIP Computers, said that while the behaviour of the old Enta management is frustrating from a personal perspective, he is more concerned about the damage that it could do to the sector as a whole.
"It's damaging for the industry and unfair on every distributor who has paid their taxes," he said. "When you've competed against someone for 17 years, you expect that it is on a fair basis and that everyone is on the same platform.
"Good luck to Dave [Stevinson], he's the right man [for the job]; but the previous administration and ownership should be ashamed of themselves because when banks don't want to lend to businesses in our sector these are the reasons why."
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