Businessmen who ran struggling Wrexham golf centre fined over £38,000 unpaid VAT

Reporter:

Gwyn Griffiths

TWO businessmen who ran a Wrexham golf complex which was hit by money troubles, have been ordered to pay compensation of £7,645 for unpaid VAT.

David Larvin and Stephen Wyn Williams, former owners of Clays Farm Golf Centre, ran up VAT arrears of £38,894 as their business hit the bunker following a compulsory purchase order for land. The business was later put into administration.

Wrexham Magistrates’ Court heard the 18-hole championship golf course, which boasted links with the Ryder Cup, was sold for £300,000 last November.

Larvin and Williams both admitted supplying goods and services without giving a security for payment of VAT on June 6 last year and failing to comply with PAYE regulations on or about July 17 last year.

Justin Espie, prosecuting, said when the businessmen were asked to fork out a capped amount for the VAT bill of £7,645.93 they failed to do so. The golf centre was placed in the hands of joint administrators Begbies Traynor last year.

“Once HMRC identified a risk they served a notice on the business and requested an amount of money,” said Mr Espie. “It is a criminal offence to continue to trade without paying that security.

“The elements of the VAT offence was that the security was not paid and they continued to trade taxable supplies. VAT and PAYE letters were issued to give the company time to resolve the matters, but there was no response.”

Mr Espie also speculated about the total loss of revenue to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) when he added: “The £7,645.93 is a capped figure, but the total tax that has been written off is almost £200,000 as a result of not supplying relevant documentation. The money is not in the revenue system and you may ask, where has it gone?”

Mike Rainford, defending, stressed the business pair had tried their best to head off their financial problems by instructing the administrators to help them by means of a company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

But the solicitor cast doubts about the quality of the advice they had received in relation to continuing trading.

“Things went from bad to worse,” said Mr Rainford. “The business was sold for £300,000 which went to the administrators (Begbies) to pay off the creditors.

“They had been advised to continue trading, to allow the business to be ongoing while it
was being sold.

“They are not accountants and the instruction was to ‘carry on’. They got experts in to help them, but they did not help them and the whole lot has been sold off cheaply.”

Mr Rainford told the court: “It was not through cavalier behaviour on their part. They were given bad advice.”

He said the business was hit by the earlier compulsory purchase order (CPO) which had forced them to close down part of the centre’s facilities, including a pitch and putt course.

“That was the start of the downward spiral,” said Mr Rainford. “The £125,000 realised from the CPO went to the bank and creditors.

“They’re hard-working men who were doing their best to take the business forward. They were involved in golf foundations and had links with the Ryder Cup.”

Larvin, 65, of Vicarage Court, Holt, was told to pay compensation of £5,733.93 to HMRC and was fined £3,750. He was also handed court costs of £85 and told to pay a victim surcharge of £170.

Williams, 53, of Park Street, Wrexham was ordered to pay £1,912 compensation to HMRC and fined £1,250. He was also issued with court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £125.

Email:

gwyn.griffiths@nwn.co.uk

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