Wyatt denies using Goldtrail money to buy shares in company

Wyatt denies using Goldtrail money to buy shares in companyBy Ian Taylor

Former XL Leisure Group boss Phil Wyatt yesterday denied any agreement to use Goldtrail flight deposits to pay Goldtrial director Abdulkadir Aydin for shares in the company.Wyatt told the High Court: “There was no prior agreement to use Goldtrail deposits to pay Mr Aydin for his shares.”

He told counsel for Goldtrail liquidator PwC: “If you are suggesting money was used from the deposits to pay him for his shares, I absolutely refute that.”

Wyatt and fellow defendants Magnus Stephensen and Halldor Sigurdarson, together with Hong Kong-registered Black Pearl Investments, are contesting PwC’s claim for £1.4 million.

Goldtrail went into administration in July 2010 with £33 million owed to creditors.

Viking Airlines sold seats through Goldtrail and the liquidator alleges the defendants were involved in the “misapplication” and “misuse of payments” in advance of the failure.

Aydin was sole director of Goldtrail and appears to have transferred £10 million to himself and his family before putting the company into administration.

PwC is also pursuing a claim for £3.64 million against Turkish carrier Onur Air which had agreements with Goldtrail.

Wyatt confirmed funds invested by Black Pearl Investments in Viking “belonged to me” and told the court: “I put in £2.9 million.” But he insisted he was not “the beneficial owner” of Black Pearl.

He acknowledged he sought to hide Black Pearl’s purchase of a 50% stake in Goldtrail from the CAA.

Asked why, Wyatt told the Court: “XL Leisure had failed in September 2008. I wanted to ensure I was a fit director. I couldn’t do anything day to day in any business, so I was employed as a consultant.

“I didn’t want the responsibility of day-to-day management.”

Hilary Stonefrost QC, counsel for PwC, pointed out: “No consultancy agreements or invoices were disclosed in evidence.”

Stonefrost quoted an email from Aydin to Wyatt, referring to control of deposit payments and suggested to Wyatt: “You and Mr Sigurdarson were in control of payments made to Goldtrail, weren’t you?”

Wyatt replied: “No we weren’t.”

Stonefrost pointed out: “You are not a director or beneficial owner of BPI, on your evidence, so why the need to hide the change of ownership?”

Wyatt told the Court: “I don’t think the CAA perceived me as a very desirable person. I don’t know why. That is the way I preferred to do it.”

A copy of a presentation Stephensen said he made to a meeting of Black Pearl and Viking directors in January 2010 was shown to Wyatt. This referred to “a five-year seat-sale agreement with Goldtrail for a minimum 100,000 seats a year”.

Wyatt said: “This was not the presentation Magnus gave at that meeting.”

He told the Court: “It’s a side agreement . . . it was just a mechanism to pay Mr Aydin for his shares. It’s obvious it is a fictitious agreement.”

This led to a series of sharp exchanges between Wyatt and PwC’s counsel, with Wyatt insisting, “That agreement does not exist” and counsel telling him: “All the documents we are looking at refer to a five-year seat-sale agreement. “

Wyatt also contradicted the evidence of solicitor Malcolm Grumbridge, who set up Black Pearl Investments and was one of only two directors of the company

Grumbridge told the Court he did not attend the January 2010 meeting and could not recall it happening. The defendants claim directors of Black Pearl and Viking decided to proceed with the Goldtrail deal at this meeting.

Wyatt said: “Mr Grumbridge was definitely there.”

The case continues.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

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