A City investor, who has been accused of masterminding a massive tax fraud scheme, has secretly agreed to settle claims of £67m with the liquidators of his former companies.
Paul Bell, who was arrested in 2015 in connection with an alleged £21m tax fraud, struck the confidential deal in May, according to documents filed at Companies House last month by the insolvency firm RSM, which is winding up the financier’s former empire.
The Isle of Man resident was once said to be worth £400m and had investments in a string of businesses. He was also a director of the online bookmaker 666Bet, which was promoted by the football manager Harry Redknapp before it went out of business.
Filings relating to the liquidation of Bell’s former businesses state: “Global claims of £67m were identified which could be validly pursued against Mr Bell … Following mediation, all claims against Bell and the underlying dispute were compromised by way of a confidential settlement agreement … All settled monies are to be received by Gateley PLC (the joint liquidators’ solicitors) via Hill Dickinson LLP, on behalf of Mr Bell, in accordance with the settlement.”
Separate court filings detailing the settled claims showed how Bell stood accused by his former businesses of making payments that “were not made to discharge bona fide liabilities”, while he was also said to have disbursed funds “for the improper purpose of benefiting the defendant, his family, associates and/or other companies in which he was interested”.
The documents claim that one of his former companies, the Gibraltar-based MG Engineering & Consultancy, suffered losses of more than £45m because of the financier’s actions. A further 12 companies were said to have lost sums ranging from more than £6m down to £90,000.
In his defence documents, Bell denied wrongdoing and said he did not admit that his companies had suffered loss or damage because of his alleged actions.
The confidentiality agreement surrounding the settlement means that it is not yet clear how much of the £67m of claims Bell will end up paying, although some payments have begun to trickle in.
Filings made at Companies House show that, so far, £273,517.41 has been received by EV Construction & Management, plus a further £200,899.54 by Pavillion Management Services, two of six former Bell companies that launched legal claims against their former owner.
One insolvency expert said: “Ultimately the liquidator will have to declare how much has been paid by statute. Probably, Paul Bell wants to defer public knowledge of what has been paid for some time.”
The financier has been investigated by the taxman for an alleged massive VAT fraud carried out through payroll companies that processed hundreds of millions of pounds in wages for legitimate businesses. While he was arrested in 2015, he has not been charged and he has previously “vigorously denied any wrongdoing”.
HMRC and the Isle of Man police declined to comment.
RSM said it could not provide details of the agreement. Bell did not respond to efforts to contact him directly or via his law firm, Hill Dickinson.