Collapsed asset valuation and recovery group boss is bankrupt with £4.6m-plus debts

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The former owner of a collapsed asset valuation and recovery group has been declared bankrupt with debts of more than £4.6m.

Neil Gregory Duckworth, 49, was the chief executive of Blackburn-based Winterhill Asset Ltd which went into administration in April 2016.

Duckworth, who lives in a £950,000 property in Heapey, near Chorley in Lancashire with his wife Amanda, is currently operating as a consultant for Manchester-based Breal Capital – a privately-owned boutique investment firm.

The largest creditor listed in the bankruptcy order at Preston County Court is RSM Restructuring Advisory which is owed £1.8m.

Another £1.5m is owed to Moygannon, the company which bought a minority stake in parent company Winterhill Largo in 2014.

Others include Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland subsidiary Adam & Company which is owed £975,000.

Duckworth’s father Norman is listed as being owed £165,000. It is also understood his 51-year-old estranged brother Andrew with whom Neil Duckworth had business interests is owed significant funds, but he declined to comment.

The bankruptcy petition was filed by Metro Bank plc, which is owed £538,935. Santander is owed £250,000.

RSM’s joint administrators’ report on April 21, 2016, highlighted unsecured creditor claims of £212,180 and debts owed to HM Revenue and Customs relating to unpaid PAYE/NIC and VAT totalling £98,156. Unsecured employee claims totalled £120,603.

“Client account shortfalls total an estimated £520,753,” the report said. “However subject to ongoing investigations, this balance may increase.” The company’s debts amounted to nearly £3m.

Louise Brittain, of London-based  accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy, who was appointed as trustee of Neil Duckworth’s bankruptcy, compiled a detailed report of his affairs.

She said that in addition to his matrimonial home Duckworth owned three further properties which he alleged were transferred to the ownership of his wife for £300,000.

Another property was registered in joint names of Neil and Andrew Duckworth. The property is freehold and has a charge registered against it in favour of Adam & Co.

“The debtor again claims to have transferred this interest in this property in lieu of debt owed to a former business plartner,” she writes. “Again, I shall be reviewing the legitimacy of this transaction as part of my investigations.”

Brittain also reported that Duckworth may have an interest in a plot of land in Sir Lanka, which is apparently a potential hotel development site.

The land is understood to be owned by one of two non-UK registered companies Kings Estate (Private), and Coral Park (Private)  both Sri Lankan corporate entities.

“I have seen a briefing note in respect of the site, which appears to have been produced in March, 2016,” she said. “It says the site consists of 37 acres of beach and lagoon frontage.

“An operating agreement has allegedly been reached with an interested party and there are apparently ongoing negotiations with another interested party for a further enhanced operating agreement.

“The debtor alleges he has no interest in this site and it is his wife who holds the shareholding in Kings Estate.He alleges that these shares have at all times been held by his wife.

“It is understood that this is in contradiction to representations given to one of the debtors creditors Moygannon.

“Moygannon have provided me with a copy of a loan facility agreement entered into with the debtor, under the terms of which he has utilised his interest in the site to provide security for a loan. I shall be reviewing this matter as part of my investigations.”

Breal have been contacted for comment. Neil Duckworth declined to comment when contacted by TheBusinessDesk.

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