Convicted fraudster's new business set to be wound up - owing thousands of pounds (From The Northern Echo)
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Convicted fraudster's new business set to be wound up - owing thousands of pounds
A CONVICTED £16m fraudster who set up a clothing company following his release from jail is on the brink of another business failure, The Northern Echo can reveal.
Mike Smallman’s firm APM Clothing Developments marketed itself at budding fashion entrepreneurs, promising “dream” products.
But after hitting cashflow difficulties Mr Smallman was locked out of the company’s offices at Bede House, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, when he was unable to pay the rent.
He has now conceded the business is set to be wound-up and its website has been shut down.
Meanwhile, The Northern Echo has spoken to one couple who say they want Mr Smallman to refund £12,480 they paid after goods they ordered failed to arrive.
Mark and Eimear Nieuwenhoff, who live in County Wexford, Ireland, requested hundreds of rugby tops, polo tops and t-shirts.
They were told last September that the items were estimated to arrive within the next three months, but almost a year on they are still waiting.
Eimear Nieuwenhoff said: “I am still optimistic about a refund, even though there is a probably not a hope in hell that we might get our money back.
“I am a bit sick about it all. We’ve been idiots.
“We have no experience of the clothing industry at all. He [Mike Smallman] had some good ideas and we didn’t think there was anything wrong until it kept dragging on.”
Mr Smallman, who lives in Richmond, North Yorkshire, was jailed for seven years in 2008 for fraudulent trading following the collapse of the Middlesbrough-based National Distance Learning College, of which he was he chairman.
The 49-year-old, who was released last year, previously told The Echo he was innocent and was “100 per cent confident” a Criminal Cases Review Commission appeal would clear his name.
A former business, Up To The Nines – another clothing firm – was the subject of four county court judgements brought by customers owed money and was dissolved after Mr Smallman went to jail.
Mr Smallman claimed criticism on the social networking website Twitter from a past customer had destroyed his current business, but said those who wanted refunds would get them.
He said: “My position is untenable with the overheads and everything. I am fighting a losing battle and have been let down time and time again.
“I am not taking any more business, but no-one is going to lose out. We have got about 27 customers and if we can get their orders done, once they pay there will be money for refunds. I will then wind the company up.”
Mr Smallman said he had subcontracted two manufacturers abroad – in Turkey and Vietnam – to complete the Nieuwenhoff’s order, but they had made a mess of it.
The businessman added: “I am throwing money at the wall.
“I haven’t done anything wrong, no-one is running away and there is no hiding or skulduggery.”
Marvin Ryder, a manager with APM’s landlord Flex Space, said: “We had to lock him out as he couldn’t pay his rent.
“There is only so long we can be charitable. He left a note under my door saying I am not going to give up, but that’s Mike.
“We know this climate is difficult and we will work with people if there is a possibility they may pay.
“We gave Mike a deadline and asked for a decent amount upfront as a show of intent. It didn’t come so we had to lock him out.”
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