Mike Jones from Cwmbran
A finance company run by ex-bankrupts has gone bust leaving more than 1,000 people out of pocket.
Administrators are picking over the bones of Apex DCM but experts say the company’s victims are unlikely to get their money back.
Mike Jones from Cwmbran is one of the company’s victims. He got badly into debt and ended up owing nearly £39,000.
Nottingham based Apex DCM seemed to have the answer. They would handle all correspondence with his creditors and handle repayments. For £450 a month the company promised he would be debt free in six years.
But last December he spoke to the company and found out he still owed around £34,000. Despite making payments totalling £34,000, Apex DCM paid off just £4,000 of his debts.
Mike was devastated by the news: “An abyss just opens up underneath you and you just wants to suck you in. You look into you and ask how you could allow yourself to be scammed for £30,000.”
The company was started by former bankrupt John Baird in 2002. His company secretary Sentley Wilson was a solicitor at the time, but has since been struck off for misappropriating clients money. He’s was also declared bankrupt – but continued to be involved with Apex DCM.
The pair were also directors of a number of other small companies – all of which are now defunct or have proposals to strike them off the register of companies.
These companies owe Apex DCM around £1.3m. John Baird also personally owed the company more than £400,000 when he died in 2009.
X Ray asked forensic accountant Geoff Mesher of Grant Thornton to look at the administrators report into the company.
He told us: “These loans may have been made entirely legitimately and with the best intentions to help other companies. At the other end of the spectrum it could be that these payments were, deliberately made to defraud creditors of Apex DCM and move that money out to benefit ultimately someone else.”
He said it was unlikely that creditors like Mike would get any money back from the company.
John Baird died in October 2009. We wrote to Sentley Wilson asking him what he’d done with the money Apex DCM had received from Mike and other customers, but he hasn’t responded.
Mike has now been forced to declare himself bankrupt.
He told X Ray: “I could have gone bankrupt seven years ago and could be be out and be putting my life back together again. But there was a pride in me in paying back what I borrowed.
“We're back on near breadline again. Any father would want to do the best for their children and I can't. “
Apex DCM is an extreme case, but regulators are concerned about standards in the debt management industry. The Office of Fair Trading carried out a review of the industry last year and gave warnings to 129 companies.
So what should you do if you’re struggling with serious debt? It’s important to remember that there is no need to use a debt management company as a number of reputable organisations will help for free. There’s a list of these companies below: