The high court has ruled that Gavin Woodhouse can be removed as a director of a series of his subsidiary companies after a judge heard the embattled financier had been withdrawing tens of thousands of pounds from a bank account he had kept secret from administrators.
The move follows temporary administrators taking control of five Woodhouse companies over the past two weeks, including care homes and a planned adventure park. A crisis has engulfed the entrepreneur’s business interests after an undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV News raised questions about what had happened to millions of pounds of private investors’ savings.
During his ruling on Monday, which allowed interim managers to remove Woodhouse as a director of any subsidiary of the five companies they now oversee, Judge Alastair Norris said: “It appears that Mr Woodhouse has been seeking to extract from subsidiary companies further monies from accounts that were not disclosed to the interim managers as being accounts that NPD Group has interests. These accounts appear to be hotel operating accounts at Barclays, whereas the rest of the group banking is done at NatWest bank, about which the interim managers were told.”
The judge was told how Woodhouse had made two £20,000 withdrawals from the account on 8 July and 11 July, “apparently for payment of legal expenses and for transfer to his personal account”.
The court also heard about how Woodhouse and his wife had been receiving a combined salary of £280,000 a year from one of his companies, while also borrowing hundreds of thousands of pounds from the firm.
Judge Norris, who has frozen Woodhouse’s personal assets, added that the court had only heard “one side of the story” as the businessman had yet to have been given the chance to explain his actions to the court.
Over three separate hearings this month, temporary administrators have been appointed by the high court to run Woodhouse’s holding company, Northern Powerhouse Developments, his adventure resort group, Afan Valley, two care home firms, MBI Clifton Moor and MBI Hawthorn, and his hotel holding company, Giant Hospitality.
In the first hearing, Judge Sally Barber ruled that the financier’s business model appeared to be “thoroughly dishonest”.
Woodhouse’s barrister declined an invitation to comment on behalf of her client in court. He has previously denied any wrongdoing and said that investor monies are held in bank accounts.