Our business correspondent, ROBERT PESTER, reports on some troubling developments at Companies House
The fragile nature of Mayor Jason Perry’s dealings with the company that is supposed to deliver a 240-home development in the centre of Purley, and provide – for free! – a new swimming pool and leisure centre, was exposed this week when Polaska Assets Ltd was given a stern ticking off by Government officials at Companies House.
Polaska Assets Ltd was yesterday listed to be struck off as a registered company.
Yet according to sources close to £84,000 per year Mayor Perry, the council “has conducted full due diligence” on a firm of developers who want planning permission (from the council) to build £100million-worth of retirement homes on the site of the old Purley Pool, supermarket and council-run multi-storey car park.
New readers start here… Croydon Council owns the freehold to the Purley site. There is a company, also called Polaska, which is registered in the British Virgin Islands, a notorious haven for tax dodgers, which we are meant to believe is the long-term leaseholder of the site (since around 2005, as best we can discover).
BVI-registered companies conduct their business in the shadows. They often have plenty to hide, and they provide little, if any, detail of who owns them or what assets they hold. Croydon Council has refused to make public who are the directors of Polaska Assets BVI, nor what assets it might have to enable it to conduct such a large-scale project.
This has become a cause for concern for some. After all, no one wants a large, prime town centre site allowed to become increasingly derelict, as it is left undeveloped for a decade or more, now do they?
Another corporate entity, Polaska Assets Ltd, was registered with the UK authority, Companies House, in August 2022 with an address on a country estate in West Sussex and a single director, 74-year-old Paul Andrews.
Thanks to UK company law, we already know more about Polaska Assets Ltd, from Companies House records, than we do about its BVI-registered namesake. We know that the company is little more than a shell, with no assets, and we know that Andrews has a long and not always distinguished record as a company director.
Andrews is, or has been, a director of 27 companies, going back to 1984, 17 of which have been “dissolved”.
It is this Polaska Assets Ltd, registered in the UK, which was this week served with the Gazette Notice, a warning that the people behind the company have not been doing the required paperwork on time.
If there is a connection with Polaska Assets BVI, then this is a situation with which they may already be familiar. Even within the British Virgin Islands’ regulation-lite jurisdiction, Polaska have not had an entirely blemish-free corporate existence. Ten years ago, they faced possible strike-off action in the Caribbean, too, for failing to complete regulatory paperwork.
Here this week, “The Registrar of Companies gives notice that, unless cause is shown to the contrary, the company will be struck off the register and dissolved not less than two months from the date shown above.” The date given is November 14, 2023, the company being Polaska Assets Ltd.
“Upon the company’s dissolution, all property and rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be bona vacanta, and will belong to the Crown.”
It can all seem a bit dire, but it is often simply the result of an administrative oversight and can be readily remedied.
That’s what happened in 2021 when Jason Perry’s own company, Carlton Building Plastics Ltd, was threatened to be struck off. The now Mayor of Croydon had been badly affected by covid and was late with some paperwork.
But it might not be the sort of thing you’d expect from a company with serious aspirations of delivering a £100million housing development.
Another company that Croydon Council had “conducted full due diligence” on was Valo Smart City Ltd, the firm that promised to provide 180-odd bus shelters around the borough and £60million in ad revenue over 10 years.
Nearly three years on, and there’s no bus shelters, no ad revenue and Mayor Perry has started to stamp his feet, apparently surprised that a firm only registered in August 2020 – after the council had begun its procurement process for bus shelters – should prove to be such an absolute basket case.
Valo was another company which, like Polaska’s UK version, popped up with no assets and a director with a chequered business history. It was first threatened with being gazeteered in October 2022. They got their paperwork sorted and got that fixed.
But yesterday, Valo, too, was served with another Gazette notice. This time, there’s probably no way back: they have failed to file accounts for 2022, and probably won’t bother. King Charles isn’t going to add to his pile of wealth here, though: Valo is leaving behind only debts and Croydon streets with no bus shelters.
Like Jason Perry in 2021 and Valo in 2022, Polaska Assets Ltd have quickly fixed their admin issue.
Companies House today added to Polaska’s public record, “Compulsory strike-off action has been discontinued.” Which is nice for Polaska, though hardly reassuring for the public of Purley and Croydon who have endured too many years of being dicked about in the interests of property developers around the borough.
One other cautionary note arises, however.
Company director Jason Perry, Croydon’s part-time Tory Mayor, might find himself a bit busy over the next few weeks.
Just at a time when he is expected to be fully occupied in fixing the council’s finances, he’ll need to make sure that the annual accounts for Carlton Building Plastics Ltd are all in order. Perry’s family firm, of which he is Secretary, has not filed any annual accounts since December 2021, five months before he got himself a second job as Croydon’s Mayor.
Read more: Tories warn residents: don’t dare complain about Purley pool
Read more: Millionaire pulls plug on Mayor Perry’s ‘big idea’ for Allders
Read more: MP Philp: I have no idea who is behind Purley development
Read more: Residents backlash over Perry’s 200-flat scheme at Purley pool
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