£67m tax bill of bust scrap dealer firm

editorial image

A scrap metal firm and former sponsor of the Dewsbury Rams which went bust two years ago is being chased for more than £67m by HMRC.

The tax authority is trying to recover the money from JKL (Wakefield) Ltd, which traded as Eric France Metal Recycling, as part of the company’s liquidation.

The company, which sponsored Wakefield Wildcats as wells as Dewsbury Rams Rugby League clubs, went bust in February 2013 with the loss of 18 jobs.

Papers filed at Companies House show that luxury items have been sold off to pay creditors of the company, which was based at Embassy Works, Church Street, Ossett.

The latest liquidators’ progress report shows that two watches were sold for £9,501 and two “cherished” car number plates previously owned by shareholders fetched a total of £1,500.

Directors’ and shareholders’ properties were also being sold off to pay creditors.

The report said: “A total of £246,783 was received during the period from Kathleen France following the sale of one of her residential properties.”

Her main residential property was also being marketed for sale, the report said.

Another director, Jody Firth, sold a house “which will result in net realisations of £112,868 in the liquidation”, the report said.

A cash sum of £12,957 had been received from director Albert Goddard.

The report, filed at Companies House on May 7, said: “Prior to the appointment of the joint liquidators the company was subject to an investigation by HMRC in relation to its historic VAT position and was unable to generate sufficient funds to meet these historic liabilities.”

The report said the liquidators were “reviewing the basis of HMRC’s substantial claim (over £67m) in the liquidation.”

That figure owed to the tax authority has risen from an estimated £21 when the firm first went bust, and £47m a year ago, previous reports show.

In 2014, Mr Firth was disqualified as a director for 13 years and Mr Goddard was banned for seven years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

That inquiry found that the company “evaded tax liabilities to HM Revenue and Customs resulting in VAT losses of at least £50,204,505 and losses of £4,888,661 in respect of unpaid PAYE tax and National Insurance”.

KPMG and PwC are acting as joint liquidators of JKL (Wakefield) Ltd.

They said in a statement: “The joint liquidators continue to realise the assets of JKL (Wakefield Ltd) for distribution to creditors, including HMRC.”

The company was the main sponsor of Wakefield Wildcats and also sponsored the club’s East Stand when it called in the administrators, leaving the club with a six-figure gap in its finances.

Rugby League Club Dewsbury Rams was also sponsored by Eric France and Ossett Town’s stadium was named Stade France under a sponsorship deal with the company.