Lowcosttravelgroup administrators expect to publish their investigations into its collapse early in 2020, revealing the company is still under scrutiny despite an initial probe into the directors’ conduct being concluded.
The group fell into administration in July 2016, leaving thousands of customers and trade partners out of pocket. It used a Spanish consumer protection system to avoid the costs of Atol protection.
In its latest filing, co-liquidators Smith & Williamson (S&W) “have found no issues needing further reporting” in their investigation into the directors’ conduct under the Company Directors Disqualification Act.
But S&W’s Finbarr O’Connell told TTG: “This refers to our submission to the UK government’s directors disqualification special unit. That may sound positive for them, but it’s not [necessarily]. It just means we have reported everything we should have reported.”
He added: “[The company] is still under active investigation.”
The liquidators were required by law to probe the conduct of all those in office at the time Lowcost failed, and anyone who was a director at any time in the three years up to its collapse.
Companies House lists Paul Evans, Lawrence Hunt and Salman Rasool as “active” directors of Lowcost at the time of its liquidation.
O’Connell said the full report would be published soon. He added: “I expect it in the not too distant future, but not this year.”
Before it failed, Lowcost was reportedly turning over £500 million a year. The report details unsecured claims received totalling almost £852 million, although £450 million of these are inter- company claims between the main tour operation, the Majorca office, its aviation arm and its bed bank.
“There are a huge amount of inter-company claims – I think there’s maybe £100 million of third-party claims,” said O’Connell.
Lloyds Bank is mentioned as a secured creditor, with a claim of £564,367.
The report adds: “The joint liquidators are hopeful there will eventually be sufficient funds to declare a dividend to unsecured creditors.”
The report continues: “Dependent on the outcome of ongoing investigations into the circumstances leading to the companies’ insolvent positions, it is expected that possible future realisations could give rise to a dividend in some or all of the group companies.”