This blog was established to help get to the bottom of how the Collins & Bone Partnership reached the very sad situation it is now in, with its partner Liam James Collins having a bankruptcy hearing on 25th January (postponed)15th March 2012 (ditto), and finally bankrupted on 9th May 2012 (case # NEWC 1517 of 2011 BKT 3472187, Newcastle County Court, The Law Courts, The Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 3LA), and David Bone Jnr declared bankrupt on 31st May (case no 100 of 2012 Wigan County Court). The partnership used the following addresses:

25 Shelton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2 H9HW, UK

Eastern Villa, Station Rd. North, Forest Hall, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE12 9AE (owned by Liam Collin's parents, and now up for sale)

There are 3 specific goals of this blog:

• To find out what happened to the 1m+ GBP monies that C&B raised via PNs in late 2009, 2010 & 2011. I am excluding PNs issued to ex-CBS investors, but that said, this blog will be of interest to ex-CBS investors, and there is information that needs to be obtained from this set of investors wrt when PNs were issued to them, and their duration.

• To determine what, if any, criminal charges should be brought against the partners.

• To warn other investors off doing any business with the partners, their equally inept/unscrupulous extended family members, and supportive cohorts.

When you look at the PNs, there are no specific statements on the documents that specify how the monies were to be used - how you believed they were to be used is based on whatever e-mail/phone call foreplay you had beforehand with Liam Collins. That is why it is so important that the following information is collated for this category of C&B investors on an individual basis:

1) What did you believe you were investing in, and what was your basis for believing this?
2) What investment risks were you informed of?
3) What was your understanding of the purpose to which PN monies could be put?
4) What brochures and documents were you furnished with as prt of your due diligence?
5) What due diligence did you do?
This blog is being operated completely separate to Sally & Jasmine's blog (, although we share the common goal of getting to the bottom of this mess in a professional manner. If you don't want to post anything on the blog in person, you can send an e-mail to me at - information conveyed in any such e-mails will only be posted on the blog on your behalf after any editting/your specific consent.

Ewart (The Editor)

Monday, 30 April 2012

The partners' endearing love for ex-CBS investors

From David Bone Jnr in a phone call dated 31st January 2012:

"Any legal obligation to pay the debt will be wiped by the bankruptcy, but the moral obligation to repay remains - this applies only to C&B debt, not CBS debt which was dead back in 2009"

From Liam Collins ala "Q&A document compiled with Liam Collins" blog article (if you have not previously read this article, you should):

"I believe if I was making the rules those who had not originally invested in C&B should be treated differently. We know that the FSA treats them differently but it is whether the receiver will. If he does then he will make C&B PN investors a priority which I agree should be the case. That said all this is largely irrelevant who is prioritised as there will be nothing realised from the sale of the assets and so there will be nothing to prioritise. It is now down to us and our moral obligations as to who we choose to prioritise if the law allows us to do so as I am sure you will understand I am happy to pay back those who have supported us and those who have made it difficult I have no intention of paying a penny back."

And there you have it, the partners' endearing love for ex-CBS investors! And it is very much this group that is providing support for an IVA proposal, in contrast to the vast majority of those who invested in the partnership in 2010/2011 who are anti-IVA ... and for good reason. The only reason the partners want an IVA is to protect their own hides, as they are fully aware of the:

  • prohibitive costs associated with bringing independent legal action outside of a bankruptcy framework.
  • plethora of charges and supporting evidence that will be laid at the bankruptcy trustee's feet.

Robert Wakefield would have you believe that allowing the partnership to go bankrupt would amount to "Collins and Bone being allowed to walk away Scott free". Quite the contrary - personally bankrupted (and all the ramifications that has), criminal records, likely jail terms, prohibited from ever handling investor monies again ... these are very substantial penalties and public safeguards.

The partners have said:

"We are offering 100% in the IVA because we feel it is right to do so. We are not stating that we believe we can repay 100% or that our properties are capable of repaying 100%. I think everyone understands this. The repayment plan is based on the market recovering and the rental income remaining strong."

This is no basis whatsoever for an IVA proposal. If the %age return is not substantial (the partners themselves said back on 1/12/2011 that an IVA was not advisable because at best you might only get 20p in the pound) and guaranteed, any IVA proposal is worthless, and the pursuance of crimninal charges is the best route forward ... and it is the facing of these criminal charges that the partners want to avoid at all cost. A number of ex-CBS investors who have either joined the anti-IVA group, or are sitting on the fence waiting to see what, if any, IVA proposal is put forward, have expressed their regret at not having done more as CBS investors to hold the former directors to account, realising that the same treatment that was meted out to them as CBS investors has now been done to C&B investors in an even more blatant manner. Their views are that the partners need to be stopped and held to account for what they have done.

And let's take a look at the above Q&A document statement from Liam Collins a bit more closely, and apply it to PNs taken out in 2010/2011:

  • Were monies owed to C&B investors paid ahead of those owed to ex-CBS investors? Absolutely not!!!! In 2010/2011, some 300k GBP was paid out to ex-CBS investors, yet there are C&B investors who invested in 2010/2011, myself included, who have not received a penny in interest payments and/or our original investment.
Now consider the following statement from Liam Collions in a personal e-mail on 18/1/2012:

"Total invested in CBS which was carried over = 2.3m this will be reduced to around 2m as it includes interest as per the PN i not paid on time."

, and couple it with this niave statement Robert Wakefield made to a group of select investors in March 2012:

"Unless I am very much mistaken, it seems there is a small splinter group of investors who are determined to ruin everything for everyone by acting without having properly understood what bankruptcy for Collins & Bone will mean for us all."

What Robert Wakefield neglects to mention is that ex-CBS investors have already received a return of 15% of their original investment monies at the expense of C&B investors ... although I suspect that these monies were not evenly distributed. C&B investors have collectively received substantially less than this, and were just outright defrauded of their monies.
  • Were monies owed to C&B investors who invested in 2010/2011 paid out in a pro-rata manner? Absolutely not!!! Some investors were paid monthly interest right upto and including October 2011, others stopped in July 2011, others in May 2011 ... and some never received anything at all.
  • In the e-mail from Liam Collins to all investors dated 1st November 2011, he states:
"We have taken legal advice from a top practice and they have explained that we cannot now prioritise one investor over another due to the overdue PNs which have a negative effect on the solvency of the partnership. We must treat all investors (creditors) equally."

But the partners were in default of PNs in March 2011 (that's just from a C&B investors perspective) ... and I suspect that they were in default of ex-CBS investor issued PNs long before this as well, hence the need to have ex-CBS investors sign 5-year PNs in March 2011. So exactly what the condition "now" refers to, ala "cannot now prioritise", is a mystery.

So God only knows what criteria were used to determine who got paid when - and it certainly was not down to computer software bugs as Liam Collins would try and have you believe.

The monies that were raised through PNs in 2010/2011 were almost certainly being used from the outset in a "ponzi/"borrowing from Peter to pay Paul" manner - in the case of the investor whose story is covered in the blog article "The true Liam Collins" there is absolutely no question that this is what happened. The ex-CBS investors, who received 300k GBP post 2009, well these monies I am sure also largely came out of these newly issued PNs ... this, in total violation of what the majority of the C&B investors were told their monies were going to be used for. I am sure a full investigation of the books by the bankruptcy trustee will bear these statements out.

The Editor

240 Great Clowes Street part 2

In the May/June 2011 newsletter from "the Board", Robert Wakefield stated:
"If you would like to earn generous commissions from referring or introducing investors to the new-look Collins & Bone, where the investment is 100% protected, please contact one of us. You can also earn very good commissions from sourcing properties. You will be paid by St. Giles Asset Management Limited, not Collins and Bone."
So let me share with you some additional information that I did not have when I compiled the "240 Great Clowes Street" blog article, partly because the Land Registry does still insist on doing some things via ordinary snail-mail and cheques. The sale history behind this property is as follows:

Purchased 9/5/2011 by Dereham Investments Limited for 182k GBP, with Castle & Gatehouse Ltd slated to do the renovation work.

Purchased 7/10/2008 by Robert Charles George Wakefield & Clare Patricia Maria Wakefield for 165k GBP. The house was subsequently let by the likes of Moffat & Collins (ala Nasser Moffat & Patrick Collins) and Patrick Properties Limited (ala Patrick Collins).

Purchased 3/8/2005 by Mazepak Ltd (company # 05457525) for 230k GBP.

So here is Robert Wakefield trying to sell/offload a property he owns to be done up as part of a JV with Castle & Gatehouse Ltd. to C&B  investors whose PNs were already in default just so that he could profit/recoup some of his own investment losses! I don't view this as having investors interests at heart. I sincerely hope that:

  • Commissions were not paid from PN monies raised in 2011 (see "The true Liam Collins" blog article).
  • That no commission was paid in the case of 240 Great Clowes Street given that Castle & Gatehouse was not able to find a buyer for the property within the JV term.

The Editor

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The true Liam Collins

On 18/3/2010, an investor took out two very large PNs, each X GBP - both PNs were for a 1 year term, with interest paid monthly. The PNs were signed by Liam Collins, and witnessed by Balbir Singh & Mish Liyanage. This investor/his family are by far the largest investors in C&B PNs issued in 2010/2011 to my knowledge to date. Suffice to say, the usual fore-play from Liam Collins prior to these PNs being taken out:

"All of our personal assets including 74 personal student properties and our own homes is held in the partnership. This promissory Note ensures that if in the event that we ever defaulted on the agreement i.e. did not pay interest to you or did not pay the capital back you could in a court of law ensure that we sell adequate properties to realise the capital to repay you.  This is why the investment is 100% guaranteed."

The investor-base would love to know the addresses of those 74 assets and what has happened to them ... but that will have to wait for the bankruptcy trustee to investigate.

For the first two months interest was paid on time, but thereafter the investor had to chase up C&B for the interest monies to be paid, which they were. In October 2010, this investor along with a number, and I suspect all, C&B PN holders who had invested in 2010, were sent an e-mail of the following form:

Dear <investor>,

I hope you are well. I have attached a statement showing you have earned <amount>  so far in interest with us accurate as of <date>. We are still offering the same interest rate if you are interested in adding to this. We will be sending you these statements quarterly for your records.

Our news here is that we have just signed off a £20m contract and have another £7m in the pipeline so we are all very busy sourcing enough stock. The good thing is there is a lot of discounted stock at present and due to unemployment there are a lot of people looking for work in construction also so our model seems to be well insulated from the market conditions which is good.

Kind Regards,

Liam Collins

Why October? Well we know that the FSA prohibitted the partners from advertising for further PN monies in Q3 2010, and given that the mortgage market was very tight/dead, the only thing they could do was try and milk existing PN holders for more cash. So it is likely that in October 2010 C&B were running very low on monies to keep the charade going.

At the end of October, the investor notified Liam Collins of his intentons to invest in property in Nottingham where both his daughters live, and that he would be cashing in his existing PNs at the end of the 1 year term i.e. 18/3/2011. The investor again reminded Liam Collins of his intention to cash-in his PNs in February 2011 by phone.

Come the maturation date, 18th March 2011, the PN was not honoured ... but there is an e-mail from Liam Collins about the recent open day in which he stated that there were "two very precise reasons for late payments in interest and nothing to be concerned about":

  • let down on the sales of many of our assets at the back end through our outsourcing sales arm. Many of our buyers had to pull out of deals in the last 8 weeks due to mortgage and planning restrictions as well as for some a change in circumstances.
  • Our in house IT system which even when cash flow has been good has let us down due to several coding problems which we are now fixing.

And he goes on ... :

Your capital is safe and both David and I have our own homes as collateral to protect your assets as well as 27 other assets and the trading inside our sister company (Castle & Gatehouse) also acts as security with future contracts worth in excess of £3m at present. So we have both cash profits from trading, real bricks and mortar as well as rental income from the portfolio to secure your investment. I know on the day there were a few of you who had concerns over the liquidity of the company and rightly so as many property companies have had severe problems in the recession. As explained we have an excellent product built to not only survive a recession but built to thrive in it.
We are still accepting investments, however, we realise for many of you at present you need to see interest payments consistent for a while yet before you entertain the idea of further investment and this I can understand entirely.

Apologies once again but, as I say, nothing to be concerned about as we are all excited about the future of both C&B and C&G.

And this is then followed with the e-mail on 23rd March 2011 from "the board" for ex-CBS investors to sign 5-year PNs (See post Ex-CBS investors asked to sign 5 year PNs 22/3/2011) ... of course this e-mail was only sent to ex-CBS investors, not to PN holders who invested in 2010/2011.

On 24th March 2011 the investor is offered to buy 240 Great Clowes Street (see separate blog entry on this property) by Liam Collins, one of a number of such properties subsequently offered to him over the forthcoming months. This was a house that was going to be renovated as part of a JV by Dereham Investments Limited. Quite why Liam Collins, and later Joe Sinagoga/Robert Wakefield, ever sent JV properties to the investor is a puzzle, because the partnership did not have two pennies to rub together at this stage, and any investor with an ounce of common sense would only have proceeded with such a purchase if their existing toxic PNs were offset against the purchase price.

In April 2011, the investor received a phone call from Liam Collins in which he enquired whether the investor would be interested in investing additional PN monies ... the investor was told that the business was in good shape and doing well. Given this, and the fact that interest had been paid on his previous two PNs without too much prodding, the investor decided to renew the matured PNs for another year, and to invest a further X GBP. These monies constituted the family's life savings. The investor had no knowledge of the current situation with ex-CBS investors and the liability that they posed. The interest payments on the investor's PNs continued up to and including June 2011, and then stopped.

When the investor was asked to sign the 5-year PN in November 2011, and refused to do so, the retort from Liam Collins was:

[Liam] You will need to sign the 5 year PN which has been sent to you. If you do not we will be forced to bankrupt ourselves. If you sign it we can get on with business so long as 100% of investors sign this. You do not have much of a choice here so do us and yourself a favour and sign and scan this back please or appoint a solicitor and take legal action.

So here in an investor, almost certainly the largest PN investor in 2010/2011, who has lost his family's entire life savings and is really struggling to make ends meet, and being treated in the above manner. Of the X GBP that was invested in April 2011, the family has only received (X / 15) GBP of it back in the form of interest payments on the 3 PNs before all such payments stopped. How, with any sense of moral fiber or social responsibility, can you, Liam Collins, solicit monies from an investor as late as April 2011 claiming that the business is doing well, and then cease all interest payments to this investor 2 months later? And where, Liam Collins, did the other (14X / 15) GBP go? Clearly, Liam Collins, you defrauded the investor.

The investor sent me the pertinent pieces of correspondence between himself and C&B. The two renewed PNs, as well as the 3rd PN taken out in April 2011, had been witnessed by Mish Liyanage whose company MCC Accountants had provided book-keeping support for C&G and C&B up until the end of December 2010. What business did Mish Liyanage have witnessing PNs issued in 2011? So, with the investor's approval, I forwarded the 3rd PN to Mish Liyanage and asked him to confirm whether or not this was his signature, and whether he had indeed witnessed this PN. He had not - his signature had been forged. So it appears that a new criminal offence, one of forgery, can now be added to the growing list of criminal charges that will be laid at the doors of the partners once the bankruptcy is forced.

The Editor

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Hopeless ... opeless ... Operus

"The board" that was formed in March 2011 was intended to have 4 members - only 3 ever joined. John Chart only attended the first meeting of "the board", and thereafter had nothing further to do with it. A fourth person was approached, but declined to join. So "the board" only ever really comprised of two people, Joe Sinagoga & Robert Wakefield, with the latter very much the front man. In "the board"'s initial March 2011 newsletter, they introduced their raison d'etre as being:
"To 'manage' creditors so that everyone gets repaid. The board members will ensure fair play and reliable repayments to all investors."
For starters, "all investors" meant ex-CBS investors, so they were most certainly NOT representing all investors. And what was meant by "manage"? The real purpose of "the board" was to keep disgruntled C&B disinvestors in-line and to prevent them from taking legal action against the partners so that they could continue with business. And that's not supposition, that's fact. An integral part of this "manage"ment was to try and sell 5-year PNs to all ex-CBS investors who held toxic PNs, an exercise in which they of course failed - a number of ex-CBS investors refused to sign, and some went on to take legal action. Hence the ongoing bankruptcy of Liam Collins & David Bone Jnr by Alistair MacLean... and if it were not by Alistair, there are plenty of others waiting in the wings to force the same outcome.

Joe Sinagoga & Robert Wakefield are merely mouthpieces of Liam Collins. In an e-mail to Richard Paris on 15/1/2011, Robert Wakefield states:

"I have never persuaded anyone to invest in Collins & Bone or any other business - not even in stocks & shares or managed funds. I merely shared my own experiences with you. Any decision as to what to do with your money was always yours of course. Please also remember that I was always only 'another investor', not an employee, director or even commission agent."

Contrast this with texts lifted from "the board"'s newsletters:

Now is a great time to start investing in this market.

If you would like to earn generous commissions from referring or introducing investors to the new-look Collins & Bone, where the investment is 100% protected, please contact one of us. You can also earn very good commissions from sourcing properties. You will be paid by St. Giles Asset Management Limited, not Collins and Bone.

Robert Wakefield has a sizeable investment in C&B, and has every interest in making sure that C&B is kept afloat, no matter how that is achieved. It was for this reason that "the board" members were actively trying to recruit investors to the po-IVA camp in the form of e-mails and phone calls, even though they had no legitimate right to be using investor data in this way ... clearly, this was not their role as investors, but as Liam Collins's proteges. And I suspect that they have received/are recieving preferential treatments wrt paybacks in one shape or form or another ... again, something that we will be asking the bankruptcy trustee to investigate.

And it is worthwhile taking a look at St. Giles Asset Management, and the other company that shares the same address - Operus Limited, Unit 4, 36 Queens Rd., Newbury, RG14 7NE. Operus Limited is a new company incorporated 10th November 2011 with 3 of its' 4 directors as follows:

Joe Sinagoga
Robert Wakefield
Richard Anthony Hawthorne, who on LinkedIn decribes himself as "property developer and investment manager", and was previously a sales manager at Castle & Gatehouse Ltd.

On the wysi website there is the following statement:

"Operus investments Ltd. specialise in property development in the private residential sector of the Uk, offering housing solutions to a number of Government Agencies. Their investment clients can capitalise on a bespoke guaranteed rental income from day one with a property investment which has been designed for high performance, whilst minimising risk."

The website is and is still under construction.

So if Liam Collins wants to believe in conspiracy theories, that there is a company waiting in the wings to pick-up/take over C&B assets on the cheap, then Operus Limited could be a candidate. But there again, I'm not going to dwell on trying to fit square pegs into round holes.

To the directors of Operus Limited I say be careful ... you are being watched!

The Editor