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He lived the high life as his debts ravaged firms and left people jobless and desperate; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: By MARY MURTAGH

A MILLIONAIRE businessman lived a life of luxury as he left a pounds 900,000 trail of debt and misery.

Frank Wardale, who lives in a pounds 1m Merseyside mansion, was at the helm of three collapsed businesses in five years.

Each time he left scores of unpaid creditors, including small city firms who struggled to keep their heads above water and had to lay off staff.

Today they told of their battles to get Wardale to pay up, as the 55-year-old enjoyed a luxury lifestyle with classic cars and a home in an exclusive Woolton road.

Braystar Services Limited, with debts of pounds 222,302, is the latest of his companies to go to the wall.

This firm is still being wound up, but Mr Wardale is already involved in a new company, Paragon Services UK, based at the same premises as axed Braystar Services.

Mr Wardale's first company, Ace-link Designs, trading as JFDi, went bust in 2001, followed by Timber-lines Shopfitters in 2003 and Braystar Services in 2005.

Timberlines went bust with debts of pounds 602,000.

When business was booming Mr Wardale's firms were fitting out scores of shops every week including Stanley Leisure betting offices, and Karen Millen, Kookai and Oasis shops.

When his firms folded, creditors from builders merchants, British Telecom, and individual tradesmen were owed up to pounds 86,000 each, but never saw their money.

Tim O'Hanlon's firm was owed pounds 50,000 when Timberlines went bust.

He said: "It was absolute devastation for a lot of people when the company went bump. It had a massive impact and nearly finished some businesses off.

"Because of these unpaid debts people had to have crisis meetings with the bank, mortgage repayments were missed and staff were laid off.

"His behaviour is despicable. I am still angry. It is the injustice of it all.

"Many of his creditors were sole traders and we rely on people we work for being trustworthy, honest and paying their debts.

"I want to know why the tax and VAT people do not pursue him for what his three companies owe them, as there is a pattern of him not paying up."

Timberlines owed pounds 283,440 to the Crown in PAYE, VAT, National Insurance contributions and tax on sub-contractors.

Braystar Services owed more than pounds 50,000 to the Crown in PAYE, Vat and National Insurance contributions.

A spokesman for HM Revenue and Customs said they can not comment on money owed to them by individual companies.

More than 60 individuals and firms, including HM Revenue and Customs, turned up to the explosive Timberlines creditors' meeting on November 12, 2003.

They claim when Mr Wardale arrived he was given an ironic standing ovation - and when questioned about his business collapsing his only comment was: "This is bizarre".

But by then the pattern of businesses failing, staff being made redundant and a new business starting up months before the current one went to the wall had sparked the interest of the authorities. An investigation into the failure of Timber-lines and Acelink Ltd, trading as JFDi, was launched.

The disqualification investigations team at the government's Insolvency Service were not able to establish Mr Wardale was unfit to act as a director, which meant they were unable to bring disqualification proceedings against him

Examples of conduct which may lead to disqualification include: continuing to trade to the detriment of creditors at a time when the company was insolvent' failure to keep proper accounting records or failure to prepare and file accounts or make returns to Companies House.

No further action is being taken despite the collapse of a third company and Mr Wardale's involvement in a fourth firm, Paragon Services UK.

By the time Braystar was trading in 2004 word had got around the close-knit construction industry that Mr Wardale's previous companies had gone to the wall.

Business took a turn for the worst and creditors put the squeeze on the company during February 2005.

The landlord issued a notice of seizure of the company's chattel assets and all staff were made redundant.

With debts of pounds 222,302 and only a small pot of money ringfenced to pay them, most of the company's creditors are unlikely to be paid what they are owed.

That has not stopped Mr Wardale's involvement in a new firm - Paragon Services UK.

The ECHO confronted Mr and Mrs Wardale in the company office at the Britonwood Trading Estate, Faraday Road, Knowsley.

Mrs Wardale said: "We are not in a position to comment until we see what the story says. We have spoken to the receiver and our accountant and if any of the facts printed in the articles are not true then we will be suing the ECHO."

Have you been left out of pocket by Mr Wardale's businesses?If so contact Mary Murtagh on 0151 472 2504 or you can send an email to marymurtagh@liverpoolecho.co.uk

The failures

COMPANY ONE

Acelink Designs trading as JFDi, based in High Street, Wavertree.

Business specialising in the design and supply of buildings for the construction industry, started October 1999.

Turnover in first year: pounds 1m+

Directors: Frank Wardale, his wife Jane and another person.

Creditors meeting: October 16, 2001. Total owed to 12 creditors: pounds 84,794. In a director's report, the Wardales blamed issues that had become the subject of a legal dispute for the failure of the company.

COMPANY TWO:

Timberlines Shopfitters, based in Bridge Road, Edge Hill.

Shopfitting business trading in the UK and Ireland, incorporated February 2001.

Turnover at the height of business:

pounds 8.5m

Directors: Frank Wardale and his wife Jane.

Creditors meeting: November 12, 2003.

Total owed to scores of creditors:

pounds 602,009.89.

In a director's report, the Wardales blamed losses on delays on a pounds 460,000 contract. The company's bank asked them to make alternative banking arrangements, but they couldn't. Under pressure for payment by creditors, the company ceased to trade.

COMPANY THREE:

Braystar Services based on Britonwood trading Eestate, Faraday Road, Knowsley, with registered office in High Street, Manchester.

Joinery and shopfitting business, incorporated September 2003.

Turnover at the height of business:

pounds 1,309,000

Directors: Frank Wardale and his son Richard.

Administrators appointed: February 24, 2005.

Creditors meeting: May 4, 2005.

Total owed to scores of creditors:

pounds 222,302

In a director's report the Wardales blamed losing customers as the start of the company's problems. The directors said there was no explanation for the loss of trade from their main customer but attributed loss of confidence to adverse publicity within the trade from a previous insolvency. An ongoing dispute with a significant customer in respect of an outstanding contract caused the company's cashflow to suffer. Creditors increased the pressure and the landlord issued a notice of seizure of the company's chattel assets.

COMPANY FOUR:

Paragon Services UK based in Britonwood Trading Estate, Faraday Road, Knowsley. Shopfitting business currently trading.

TOMORROW

Businesses tell how they were driven to the brink of ruin by Wardale

CAPTION(S):

HIGH LIFE: Frank Wardale, with wife Jane, has left a trail of failed businesses and angry creditors
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Article Details
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 27, 2006
Words:1195
Previous Article:ALLAN Devon.
Next Article:Trappings of a millionaire lifestyle.


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