The True Story Behind ALD
More Controversy & Error
If you are looking at the news headlines right about now (here here and here for example), you are going to see a story about me being banned as a director from UK companies. This is a fact. I am not afraid of revealing it, because the facts behind it are nothing to be ashamed of on my part, but rather, proud of.
The efforts to showboat a false victory by the UK government however and overlook the facts of the case — which will on my part at least go on to appeal — will come to pass as deeply embarrassing for those who have made this erroneous decision. (They most likely are showboating as a result of the equally-absurd Monkey Capital lawsuit. These things tend to come in pairs, as for everything in life.)
Let’s start at the beginning. Back in mid-2015 a friend of mine from Oxford University gives me a call. “Daniel,” he says, “I am working with a private equity lender to a property developer that is in deep shit right now and I think it is the type of thing that you could do well at turning to your favour, rescuing and help clean up for us.”
This request piqued my attention. It seemed like just the sort of opportunity I like: risky, adventurous, difficult, profitable with a beneficial end-result for all in the end. It turned out that the company was called Absolute Living Developments. Before long I was in deep discussion with the lenders about potentially buying ALD and turning it around. The question was, how to get it for free?
The creditors soon appointed me a director to give me more clarity on the operations of the company which were murky at best, and so my idea once that was done was to pitch the actual owner of the business George Leong. I flew up to Malaysia from Singapore one afternoon with my associate and met Mr. Leong for Thai food in a shopping mall on the outskirts. Mr. Leong picked me up in his airconditioned chauffer-driven BMW, which was most welcome after the cramped, overheated budget airline we had spent an hour and a half on.
Waving away the discomfort of the short flight up, I immediately got in to what could be done. My suggestion involved him opening his book of contracts with agencies all over Asia — which is how they sold the housing development projects initially, and helping me to sell out the rest of the projects. I would give Mr. Leong and Mr. Yew the owners a commission which would pay down the company’s liabilities and as such, would take onwership of the then liability-less business.
Mr. Leong brushed off my suggestion and talked about taking the company public on NASDAQ. He even threatened me at one point, promising “things will get ugly for you if you don’t buy ALD with the liabilities of the business in tact.”
Deflated and defeated, I phoned my friend. “There is truly nothing I can do about this for anyone I’m afraid,” I told him. “The guys won’t see any reason whatsoever. We are going to have to withdraw.” At that point I sent Mr. Leong a resignation letter and a request to take me off the company’s Board. Instead of complying, he did the opposite, cosmetically — although not legally — making me appear as the only shareholder and Director of the company.
There are other aspects to this story but suffice it to say that was the scale of my involvement in ALD, the now defunct property developer. I tried to buy it so we could save it and turn it around. While performing my due diligence as my capacity as a director the creditors asked me to release a portion of escrowed funds since they said their development had just completed. So, dutifully, and perhaps naively, taking them on a basis of trust, I wrote to the lawyer and asked the lawyer to release the escrow funds. Of course, if the lawyer was not satisfied that the developments were not complete they should have stalled. They did not.
I have it in writing in fact from the people who appointed me a director of ALD for that period that I was never involved in managing ALD, for which I received a cursory director ban:
— — — — — Forwarded message — — — — -
From: xxx <xxx>
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2016 at 15:58
To: Daniel Harrison <email@example.com>
Just to let you know that I’m going to be sending you a letter for ALD by email later this PM.
It’s a legal letter that just needs to go out for formality’s sake. This doesn’t change our view that you’re not the director of ALD and that Yew / Leong have been directors / shadow directors all along.
But it just needs to get to anyone connected with ALD that we have details for to cover all angles. There’s nothing you have to do with it. You can obviously respond to it but equally ignore it too.
This director ban against me is a miscarriage of justice, which I was not allowed to present such evidence at the hearing of or even to attend. I feel the appeal process will result in some rather red faces to emerge from Her Majesty’s government somehow.
If an entrepreneur who tries to RESOLVE a crisis and PREVENT investors from losing out to con men gets treated this way, what example does that set for our future? What precedent are we giving future generations of entrepreneurs? Apparently, this in the Financial Times:
Six directors have been banned after they misled more than 300 people to invest £12m into residential property developments.
Except for the fact is, I never sold one property to anyone, never handled one pound of anyone’s indeed, couldn’t gain access to the bank accounts of the company even to see where the pounds were lying. I was trying to HELP those investors I am now accused of ripping off. Think about that for a second.
Isn’t the example we are setting that it is better to be a con man than a straight-shooter? At least that way, if you get shot, you walked away with some money. There is a dangerous, awful cautionary tale implicit somehow here.
Official legal notice: I have had to resign as the Director of Monkey Ltd. which I did on Dec 1, 2018. In my place Ace Chen has taken the role of director of this company and we have sent the appropriate notice to Companies House, which has not updated it. He has also taken ownership of Monkey Ltd. Synthchain Ltd., another company I was involved with before, is owned, managed and run by Ace Chen. I have no involvement in Synthchain Ltd. any more. Both Monkey and Synthchain to my knowledge are dormant companies. There are no other companies in the UK I am aware currently that I am a director of. Let the fact that I still happen to be able to issue currency be a testament of the wonderful nature of decentralisation, a policy agenda I consistently and have consistently fought for.