Ad for Health Broadcast Ltd fails to name advertiser

  1. I first wrote about Health Broadcast Ltd, a fake limited company flogging dubious “health products” from national newspaper ads, on 15 August 2017. Its ads continue to appear in the nationals, especially for the ridiculous “detox foot patches”.
  2. On 30 January 2021, Health Broadcast Ltd surpassed itself: its ad in the Daily Mail newspaper omitted to name the advertiser (screen shot in Figure 1)!
Figure 1. Ad for Health Broadcast Ltd in the Daily Mail (30 January 2021, p.84)
  1. The product advertised was “Copper Comfort Insoles”. The only thing disclosed about the advertiser was a phone number – 0808 208 9190.
  2. Previously that phone number has been used by Health Broadcast Ltd.
  3. I complained about the ad to the advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), pointing out the non-disclosure of the identity of the advertiser, and the ridiculous health claims it makes about the product.
  4. The ASA said in an email: “… we have previously investigated and upheld complaints about the issue that you have highlighted and we are concerned to hear that such claims continue to appear. Therefore, we have referred your complaint to our Compliance team for further action…”
  5. The regulator added: “They [Compliance team] will also raise the issue of it not being immediately apparent in the ad who the advertiser is.”

Is Bentley Global (UK) Ltd on the brink of going into administration?

  1. Bentley Global (UK) Ltd (“BG”) is yet another issuer of high-risk speculative mini-bonds.
  2. Neither BG or linked company Bentley Intelligence Ltd (“BI”) is authorised or regulated by the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  3. What are speculative mini-bonds? The FCA says on its website: “Firms issue speculative mini-bonds to raise money from investors to lend to a third party or invest in other companies or property. These investments offer high rates of return but are usually very risky.”
  4. On 13 October 2020, BI published a video on YouTube entitled “CEO talks about our Algorithm and The Bond”: https://youtu.be/QSOPB_kWAQY. The firm also promotes its video on Twitter via a same-day pinned tweet (screen shot in Figure 1).
Figure 1. Bentley Intelligence Ltd pinned tweet dated 13 October 2020
  1. Alan Bentley, chief executive of both BI and BG, says in the video he wants to raise £10m via issuance of speculative mini-bonds (screen shot in Figure 2).
Figure 2. Bentley Global (UK) Ltd bonds: YouTube video dated 13 October 2020
  1. Mr Bentley tells viewers his unregulated bond pays: 12% per annum for investment up to £50k; 16% per annum for investment between £50k and £100k; and 20% per annum for investment over £100k. All interest is paid monthly over the term of the loan. Very high rates of return, then – so high they sound too good to be true.
  2. The video would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Spouting irrelevant nonsense, Mr Bentley is incredibly vague on the basis of his opaque “algorithm-based football fund”.
  3. Also in the video and equally hazy on details are Angus “Statto” Loughran, the sports commentator, and Peter Reid, the former England footballer and Premier League manager. Both appear on the BG website, too (screen shot in Figure 3).
Figure 3. The team: Bentley Global (UK) Ltd website at 18 February 2021
  1. On 1 January 2021, the FCA permanently banned promotion of high-risk speculative mini-bonds to most retail consumers. Previously, the ban was temporary, applying from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020. Therefore, at both date of publication of the video and date of this post the video appears to be in breach of the FCA ban.
Figure 4. Financial promotion approved by Blue Water Capital Ltd: start of YouTube video dated 13 October 2020
  1. Then there’s another problem with the financial promotion. At the start of the video a message is displayed: “This video has been approved as a financial promotion by Blue Water Capital Ltd (FCA No: 789335)” (screen shot in Figure 4). The same message is shown at the end, too (screen shot in Figure 5). Further, Mr Bentley himself says in the video that Blue Water Capital Ltd (“BWC”) approves his firm’s financial promotions, including the video.
Figure 5. Financial promotion approved by Blue Water Capital Ltd: end of YouTube video dated 13 October 2020
  1. Yes, BWC is an FCA-authorised firm. Nevertheless the City watchdog slapped a requirement on the firm as of 26 November 2019 (see 5 January 2021 post). The FCA financial services public register states: “BWC must not communicate, or approve the content of, any financial promotion which is to be made to, or directed at, retail clients and elective professional clients. BWC must withdraw its approval of any existing financial promotions.”
  2. What’s more, the long-term future of BG is unclear. (Like its “Algol88” trading algorithm, then.)
  3. All is well, according to the latest accounts for BG, made up to 31 August 2019. There the “going concern disclosure” says: “The directors have not identified any material uncertainties related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” The accounts, unaudited, were signed off on 31 January 2021, and filed on 1 February 2021.
  4. Meanwhile, I discovered a form on the BWC website entitled “Investor Preference – Bentley Global (UK) Ltd” (screen shot in Figure 6). The form is addressed to BG bondholders, where BWC is security trustee. There BWC refers to its email dated 3 February 20201 [sic] to BG bondholders. Presumably the year should be 2021. BG, it seems, is on the brink of going into administration. If so, this would appear to contradict the “going concern disclosure” in the latest accounts.
Figure 6. “Investor Preference – Bentley Global (UK) Ltd”: Blue Water Capital Ltd website at 18 February 2021
  1. When asked for comment, BWC owner and sole director Henry Porter said in an email: “Bluewater Capital’s (‘BWC’) financial promotion approval for Bentley Global (UK) LTD was withdrawn 24th September 2018. The existence of the shared link [YouTube video] – believed to be redundant – has been forwarded to the issuer to be disabled/removed.”
  2. Mr Porter continued: “In regards to Bentley Global (UK) Ltd’s disclosure and any consultation with investors, I am sure you can appreciate it is not for BWC to comment, however we have forwarded your inquiry to Bentley Global (UK) Ltd.”
  3. What Mr Porter didn’t say is he also quickly removed the “Investor Preference – Bentley Global (UK) Ltd” form from his company’s website.
  4. Mr Bentley, by contrast, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Lord Evans, KPMG, Huawei and HSBC

  1. On 18 December 2018, I exclusively exposed Lord Evans of Weardale’s avoidable conflict of interest after he added yet another paid role – chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL), ironically enough. The Sunday Times newspaper then reported my analysis, when on the same day Lord Evans made it known he would give up one of his then six other posts – as non-executive director of global bank HSBC (see 30 December 2018 post).
  2. Back then Lord Evans was also an independent non-executive at professional services firm KPMG UK, a role he continues to hold, according to the register of lords’ interests. Which makes interesting a disclosure on the UK website of Huawei, the controversial Chinese tech giant: “KPMG has been Huawei’s independent auditor since 2000.” (screen shot in Figure 1)
Figure 1. “KPMG has been Huawei’s independent auditor since 2000.” Huawei UK website at 10 February 2021
  1. It would therefore appear that Lord Evans, the former director general of the Security Service (MI5), is perfectly happy with Huawei’s activities in the UK – otherwise he wouldn’t work for its longstanding external auditor.
  2. Meanwhile, although he stepped down from the HSBC board in 2019, the register of lords’ interests reveals the CSPL chair recently disposed of his above-£50k holding of HSBC Holdings PLC shares (1 September 2020).
  3. HSBC is widely perceived to be too close to the Chinese authorities, and has recently been criticised for allegedly aiding China’s crackdown in Hong Kong.
  4. It is therefore reasonable to ask whether Lord Evans’ selling of the HSBC Holdings PLC shares was in any way related to the bank’s activities in relation to China.
  5. Lord Evans didn’t respond to requests for comment – which is in contrast to my previous experiences with the CSPL chair.

James Milner Foundation accounts FINALLY disclose footballer’s events company and its role in fundraising

  1. The latest accounts for charity the James Milner Foundation (JMF), made up to 31 December 2019, finally disclose footballer James Milner’s events company and its role in fundraising. The much-improved disclosure comes after charity regulator the Charity Commission opened a regulatory compliance case into JMF last year, when I brought a series of concerns about the charity to the watchdog’s attention. Having issued “regulatory advice” to the trustees, the commission closed its regulatory compliance case and took no further action.
  2. I’ve twice published reports of those concerns and my interactions with JMF and its legal representative, Mills & Reeve. On both occasions, the law firm sent a defamation complaint on behalf of Mr Milner in his personal capacity, the JMF trustees (in their personal capacity) and JMF (instructed by the trustees). Mills & Reeve requested immediate removal of each post. This I did.
  3. On both occasions, I fully replied to the legal letters. However, the charity via the law firm refused to engage any further after my response to its letter upon publication of my second report. Thus JMF became unresponsive and obstructive.
  4. JMF is a grant-making charity set up by former England international footballer Mr Milner and self-evidently run in his name. Registered as a charity with the Charity Commission on 3 April 2012, JMF raises almost all its funds by holding high-profile fundraising events.
  5. On 1 December 2019, the charity held its eighth annual charity ball in Manchester – theme: “A Night in Hollywood”. There JMF proudly announced it had at the time raised £1m for good causes, according to its tweet from the event. Clearly, a commendable achievement.
  6. In 2019, JMF paid £191.4k in grants to other charities – most to Help for Heroes and NSPCC. Like the 2018 accounts, those for 2019 call Help for Heroes “Help the Heroes” – despite my bringing the error in the 2018 accounts to JMF’s attention. Mills & Reeve, too, incorrectly referred to the military charity this way, as I pointed out to the law firm.
  7. At date of publication of both now removed posts the latest accounts were made up to 31 December 2018.
Figure 1. “Contact Us” page: The James Milner Foundation website at 14 October 2019
  1. Unlike the 2019 accounts, those for 2018 fail to identify the events company with which JMF works. It’s Entertainment Today (ET), according to the JMF website (screen shot in Figure 1). Also, ET’s phone number is plastered across the top of the charity website “for all enquiries” (screen shot in Figure 2). Meanwhile, the ET website lists JMF as one of its charity clients (screen shot in Figure 3).
Figure 2. Home page: The James Milner Foundation website at 14 October 2019
  1. For the avoidance of doubt, ET is a commercial firm, organised to make a profit.
Figure 3. Entertainment Today website at 14 October 2019
  1. So who are ET? Companies House records reveal Entertainment Today Limited has a sole director, who’s also the owner – Mr Milner. There he’s shown as sole “person with significant control”. At date of publication of the first post the company secretary was Matthew Buck.
  2. Mr Buck was, too, a trustee of JMF until recently.
  3. Back to the charity’s 2018 accounts. As I say, ET is mentioned nowhere. Also, these state “there were no related-party transactions in the period”. This is false.
  4. Mr Milner, who is vice-captain for Premier League champions Liverpool, is a related party to JMF, even if he isn’t a trustee. The former England international has control, joint control or significant influence over the charity: JMF is his charity and is run in his name, after all. Also, the footballer links to both the JMF website and its Twitter feed in the biography of his personal Twitter account (@jamesmilner). So ET, too, is a related party to the charity, as Mr Milner controls the events company as well. Thus JMF should report its transactions with ET in the accounts.
  5. The charity via Mills & Reeve disagreed.
  6. Not only do the 2019 accounts now rightly mention ET and Mr Milner’s ownership thereof. But the “related-party transactions” note in the notes to the financial statements discloses the payment made by JMF to ET for 2019 – and also specifies those for 2018 and 2017!
  7. Quite a volte-face, then.
  8. Here the point is transparency. Without disclosure in the accounts of Mr Milner’s events company and its role in fundraising, the reader simply has no idea of the joint working, let alone the money flows between JMF and ET.
  9. There’s no suggestion of inappropriate personal gain by the footballer through his events firm working with the charity. Nor is there any suggestion the payments made by JMF to ET are excessive.
  10. Trustee Mr Buck – not ET – was listed as JMF contact at the Charity Commission website until recently (screen shot in Figure 4). As I say, Mr Buck also used to be ET company secretary. This represents a conflict of interest, actual, potential or perceived, for him. As a trustee, Mr Buck must solely act in the best interests of the charity at all times. Further, he’s even closer to Mr Milner and his commercial interests than that: Mr Buck is the footballer’s longtime agent as well. Cosy!
Figure 4. The James Milner Foundation: Charity Commission website at 14 October 2019
  1. Mr Buck resigned as ET company secretary on 10 January 2020, according to filings at Companies House.
  2. Mr Buck resigned, too, as a JMF trustee on 1 October 2020, the 2019 accounts show. These changes are a welcome improvement in the charity’s governance.
Figure 5. “About Us” page: The James Milner Foundation website at 14 October 2019
  1. A more general point about JMF and its trustees. Astonishingly, at date of publication of the second post the charity website failed to identify them! The trustees weren’t shown on the “About Us” page (screen shot in Figure 5). There wasn’t a “Trustees” page, either (screen shot in Figure 6). However, there was a “Patrons” page boasting many sports stars, celebrities and, er, Gordon Taylor, the controversial chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the much-criticised trade union for professional footballers in England and Wales (screen shot in Figure 7). Oh, at the time the busy Mr Buck worked, too, for the PFA – as “director of player management”!
Figure 6. “Menu”: The James Milner Foundation website at 25 October 2019
  1. It’s revealing the JMF website omits the trustees. The omission is further evidence this is Mr Milner’s charity: JMF is organised around the footballer.
  2. When I pointed out the omission, JMF via Mills & Reeve countered charities aren’t required to have a website. I never said they were!
Figure 7. “Patrons” page: The James Milner Foundation website at 14 October 2019
  1. On 15 January 2020, the Charity Commission added to the woes at the PFA by announcing it has opened a statutory inquiry into the trade union’s charity (the PFA Charity), where PFA boss Mr Taylor is a trustee. The charity regulator has “serious concerns” about the way the PFA Charity is managed and its relationship with the trade union. The commission’s inquiry is ongoing (see both 12 January 2021 posts).
  2. JMF trustee Mark Hovell is now shown as contact on the online public register of charities. A trustee since 13 August 2012, Mr Hovell is a solicitor at… Mills & Reeve.
  3. In my unanswered response to the law firm’s letter upon publication of my second report, I pointed out the discrepancy between the trustee information at the Charity Commission and the director information at Companies House. (JMF is a charitable company). Thus at the time the Charity Commission showed four trustees: Mr Hovell, Mr Buck, John Hudson and Damaris Treasure. While over at Companies House, there were five directors (trustees): the four listed at the commission, plus Dylan Williams. The same five are listed in the 2018 accounts as well. The discrepancy between the Charity Commission and Companies House only makes the omission of trustee information on the JMF website more unsatisfactory. Which register is accurate, if either?
  4. As I say, JMF via Mills & Reeve didn’t address the issues in that email.
  5. For the avoidance of doubt, the trustee information at the Charity Commission and the director information at Companies House now agree. At date of publication there are four trustees (directors): Mr Hovell, Marie-Christine Bouchier, Mr Hudson, and Ms Treasure.
  6. Both Ms Bouchier and Mr Hudson work for the PFA: the former as “player management executive”, while the latter is “director of corporate social responsibility”.
  7. On 12 October 2020, JMF filed a “termination of appointment” document at Companies House for director Mr Williams. This shows a termination date of 17 April 2018!
  8. Here there are two problems. First, why did the charity take so long to file Mr Williams’ “termination of appointment” document? Second, why do the 2018 accounts (financial year-end: 31 December), filed at the commission on 10 October 2019, show Mr Williams still as a trustee (director)?
  9. The JMF website has been replaced by a simple holding page. This says: “Sorry for the inconvenience. Our website is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance. Thank you for your understanding.” (screen shot in Figure 8) That single-page website has been there for months.
Figure 8. Home page: The James Milner Foundation website at 11 November 2020
  1. As I’ve repeatedly made clear, there’s no suggestion anyone has done anything illegal.
  2. When asked for comment, Mr Hovell said in an email: “The Foundation notes that you have raised certain issues with the proper regulator for charities, the Charity Commission. We were happy to deal with their enquiries following your referral. The regulator concluded ‘that they reviewed the complaint and closed the case without taking any further action’. If you have any further issues, please do send them through the regulator and we will correspond with them.”
  3. There Mr Hovell omits to refer to the “regulatory advice” JMF received from the commission. (The charity regulator told me in writing it had given such to the trustees during its regulatory compliance case.) By reply, I therefore asked Mr Hovell whether the charity disputes that the commission gave it “regulatory advice”.
  4. Mr Hovell didn’t respond to that message. In response to a subsequent reminder, though, the trustee wrote: “As explained in my previous email, we will only answer any questions that the Charity Commission has. Therefore, we have nothing further to add.”

Serious errors in Lord Herbert’s charity accounts

  1. Former policing minister Lord Herbert of South Downs, the new chair of the College of Policing, is founder and chair of trustees of charity The Project for Modern Democracy (“the charity”). Set up in 2014, the charity describes itself as a thinktank, whose role is “to promote more efficient government and good citizenship”.
  2. There are four serious errors in the latest accounts for the charity, made up to 30 April 2019, filed at the Charity Commission. When asked for comment, Lord Herbert initially acknowledged two of these, while rejecting the other two. When I challenged the basis of his rejection with more evidence, the peer maintained his position, citing other Charity Commission guidance. However, Lord Herbert appeared to finally accept I’d been right all along, after I brought to his attention yet further commission guidance.
  3. So what are the errors?
  4. First, the front page of the accounts identifies the entity as “a company limited by share capital”. Yet Companies House records show it’s a company limited by guarantee.
  5. Second, reported income is £163.95k, which is above the statutory threshold for external scrutiny of charity accounts, £25k. Yet there was no external scrutiny of the accounts. That is, there’s no evidence of an independent examination or an audit.
  6. Third, the parliamentary register of lords’ interests shows Lord Herbert is paid by the charity for providing services to it as “development consultant”. Meanwhile, most charity trustees are unpaid. Therefore, the accounts should disclose he as a trustee is paid by the charity, but they don’t. Why?
  7. Fourth, as a trustee Lord Herbert is a related party to the charity. So the payment he receives from the charity is a related-party transaction. Yet the accounts omit to disclose any related-party transactions. Why?
  8. In his initial emailed response, Lord Herbert acknowledged the first two errors, adding the charity had instructed its accountants to make those corrections. It would then “request that the public record is updated”. Meanwhile, on the other two errors, the peer said: “However, we are not required to disclose on the accounts whether any trustees received remuneration – we fall below the turnover threshold for this. We have taken advice about this matter and are confident that all arrangements have been made properly.”
  9. By reply, I pointed to the accounts templates pack for small charitable companies, which the Charity Commission launched on 31 March 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charity-accounting-templates-accruals-accounts-cc17-sorp-frs-102-for-charitable-companies.
  10. I added that the commission has confirmed that the version dated 31 March 2017 remains the current one.
  11. There the charity accounting template shows note 28 to the accounts is “transactions with trustees and related parties”. As you can see, both trustee payments and related-party transactions should be disclosed.
  12. In his response, Lord Herbert wrote: “We are not required to disclose. See note 4.12 at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/trustee-expenses-and-payments-cc11/trustee-expenses-and-payments#paying-trustees-for-services. The link you sent me referred to charities preparing accounts on an accruals basis.”
  13. By reply, I told Lord Herbert he appears to be overlooking the legal structure of his charity. It’s a charitable company.
  14. I then referred to “Charity reporting and accounting: the essentials November 2016 (CC15d)”: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/charity-reporting-and-accounting-the-essentials-november-2016-cc15d.
  15. Section 3.3 “How do I prepare the accounts?” says: “… all charitable companies must prepare accruals accounts that comply with the applicable SORP.”
  16. Therefore, both trustee payments and related-party transactions should be disclosed.
  17. In his response, Lord Herbert said: “I see, and I have raised this again with our accountants. We will ensure that all requirements are met. Thank you, again, for drawing this to our attention.”
  18. We’ll therefore have to wait forthe charity to file corrected accounts to discover how much the charity paid founder and chair of trustees Lord Herbert for providing services to it.
  19. When asked for comment on the four serious errors, a Charity Commission spokesperson said in a written statement: “We are aware of concerns relating to the charity’s finances and governance. We are currently assessing information and cannot comment further at this time.”

OctaGenix Limited helps tackle COVID-19 pandemic

  1. It’s difficult to keep up. Every day brings reports of medical advances in the world’s efforts to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. You may therefore have missed what OctaGenix Limited (“OctaGenix”) is up to in this critical area.
  2. The UK company came to my attention because its directors include Abbey King Khawaja. Mr Khawaja became a director on 19 October 2020, according to Companies House records.
  3. On 24 April 2016, I exposed Mr Khawaja for being an official supporter of the Conservatives – but as a director of a fake company. What’s more, back then his fake company claimed on its website the backing of then Tory prime minister David Cameron! That laughable website disappeared long ago, but there are screen shots in the post. In the second post on the same day, I also revealed Mr Khawaja had somehow succeeded in getting his fake company selected by then government department UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) for its October 2014 market visit to South Africa. An astonishing due diligence failure by UKTI.
  4. Mr Khawaja works for Imperial Corporate Capital PLC (ICC), an opaque UK property developer and investor. There he’s “director of government relations” (see 21 March 2019 post). On 2 July 2019, I revealed Mr Khawaja had vanished from the ICC website, following my posts about him and the firm.
  5. In September 2019, best-selling author Jeffrey Archer, who sits in the House of Lords as Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, hosted a reception in the House of Lords for ICC (see 26 February 2020 post). That post includes a photo of Lord Archer with Mr Khawaja.
  6. On 11 February 2020, I described how ICC finally dropped its protracted and time-consuming legal action against me.
  7. ICC has and continues to raise funds from investors by issuing speculative mini-bonds.
  8. What is a speculative mini-bond? City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) says on its website: “Firms issue speculative mini-bonds to raise money from investors to lend to a third party or invest in other companies or property. These investments offer high rates of return but are usually very risky.” Indeed, the FCA is so concerned about speculative mini-bonds it has banned their promotion to ordinary retail consumers.
  9. Issuers of mini-bonds don’t have to be authorised and regulated by the FCA. And sure enough, ICC isn’t an FCA-authorised firm.
  10. ICC uses unauthorised introducers to promote its speculative mini-bonds.
  11. To date I’ve documented five unauthorised introducers used by ICC – the latest is Charta Alliance Limited (“Charta Alliance”) (see 15 January 2021 post). It’s bad enough Charta Alliance isn’t FCA-authorised. Worse, the regulator issued a warning about the unauthorised firm on 10 June 2020.
  12. Another unauthorised introducer for ICC is GCI Markets Ltd, a firm whose sales director was a convicted fraudster (see 5 September 2020 post)!
Figure 1. iSMART Ultimate: OctaGenix Limited website at 25 January 2021
  1. Back to OctaGenix. Mr Khawaja’s firm claims to have developed two medical devices that will help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. These are iSMART Ultimate (screen shot in Figure 1) and iSMART Terminal (screen shot in Figure 2).
Figure 2. iSMART Terminal: OctaGenix Limited website at 25 January 2021
  1. The claims made about both medical devices are very concerning. It’s difficult to know where to start, therefore.
  2. Most importantly, there’s no evidence either medical device actually exists. I will examine each page in turn.
  3. First, iSMART Ultimate page. The first sentence is problematic: the device “is invented by the [sic] top scientists”. Really? Who?
  4. Second sentence: “Using the latest blockchain technology…” A ridiculous claim. Presumably the word “blockchain” is used simply because blockchain is receiving a lot of attention as the technology behind Bitcoin, a fashionable cryptocurrency.
  5. “iSMART has built-in capability to instantly identify vaccinated individuals and those who are not.” Another ridiculous claim. How exactly does the medical device “instantly” distinguish between those who have received a vaccine and those who haven’t?
  6. “iSMART is the only system to ensure the control of virus while mass vaccination programmes are carried out.” The “only system”? Yet another unsubstantiated claim.
  7. Now the iSMART Terminal page. The second sentence: “The iSMART system is designed to support the ‘track and trace’ app with detailed and accurate data…” This medical device has nothing to do with the NHS COVID-19 track and trace app. Therefore, the NHS COVID-19 app shouldn’t be mentioned.
  8. “Just in the UK, we are aiming to monitor circa 30 million people to save millions of lives.” “To save millions of lives”? There’s no evidence of effectiveness.
  9. “…anti-viral mist solution, a formula recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) …” Yet another unsubstantiated claim. This medical device has nothing to do with WHO.
  10. Zulfiqar Ali Khan, chief executive of OctaGenix, is also a director and owner. I emailed Mr Khan with my concerns about his firm’s claims about the two medical devices. I also shared my fear they’re fake (medical devices), requesting further information about both.
  11. By reply, Mr Khan wrote: “I… assure you that iSMART technology is real, patented, and designed in Britain by the top scientists, we have already applied for the global patents. The prototype will be available by the mid of February 2021.”
  12. The OctaGenix chief executive went on to describe how the firm plans to roll out the medical devices, initially to “the NHS and care homes only”.
  13. I then asked Mr Khan to name “the top scientists” in Britain who invented the iSMART technology. Unable to see a UK patent number(s) on the company website, I also requested this.
  14. Mr Khan’s response began hopefully: “Yes, we will be glad to share all the requested information.”
  15. But he added: “As you will appreciate, this is a highly-sensitive project with numerous stakeholders involved in it; therefore, we need to sign a non-disclosure agreement before we can pass any further information.
  16. For the NCNDA, we will require your full name, passport number, and full postal address. Please note; if you represent a company other than WordPress or own a company, we will need the full company details.
  17. Once our legal team is in contact with you and WordPress, and the documents are signed by both the parties, only then you will be privy to the highly-sensitive and confidential information.”
  18. Ha ha.
  19. I said to Mr Khan in another email: “Sorry, but that is ridiculous. There’s no need for a non-disclosure agreement!”
  20. I continued: “Meanwhile, I note the company website uses the registered trademark symbol for iSMART. A UK trade mark search for the exact word ‘iSMART’ returns 12 marks. However, none of the 12 marks is owned by OctaGenix Limited. Care to comment, please?”
  21. Mr Khan didn’t respond.
  22. Meanwhile, at date of publication the OctaGenix website seems to be the only website that mentions the words “OctaGenix” and “iSMART”!
  23. For the avoidance of doubt, there are many more reasons for concern about OctaGenix. The company website would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Here I restrict myself to the firm’s alleged activities in relation to COVID-19 given the urgency and importance of the pandemic.
  24. I’ve brought OctaGenix and its COVID-19 devices to the attention of regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
  25. Mr Khawaja has “excellent relations” with, among others, MHRA, according to the OctaGenix website (screen shot in Figure 3).
Figure 3. Abbey King Khawaja: OctaGenix Limited website at 4 February 2021

The Lady Vanishes

  1. Ben Elliot is co-chair of the Conservative Party. Therefore, his business activities are of public interest.
  2. Mr Elliot was until last year a director of Hawthorn Advisors Holdings Limited, the holding company of Hawthorn Advisors, the well-connected, though opaque, political lobbyist (see 6 January 2021 post).
  3. Huawei, the controversial Chinese big tech firm, is a longstanding Hawthorn client.
  4. Companies House records show co-founder and joint owner Mr Elliot resigned as a director of Hawthorn Advisors Holdings Limited on 1 April 2020. His 40 “A” ordinary shares were transferred to Ruth Kennedy a month later (4 May 2020).
  5. Last year, it was reported that Mr Elliot had put his Hawthorn shares in a trust. As such Mr Elliot would be the “settlor”, the person who puts assets into a trust.
  6. The “trustee”, the person who manages the trust, is legal owner of the assets held therein. Thus it would appear Ms Kennedy is a trustee holding the shares for the benefit of Mr Elliot.
  7. When I first asked Ms Kennedy in an email for comment on this matter in July last year, she didn’t appear on the Hawthorn website. I didn’t receive a response.
  8. A few months later, Ms Kennedy appeared on the political lobbyist website – as a “board advisor” (screen shot in Figure 1). This prompted a second email to her in October 2020; but again no reply.
Figure 1. Ruth Kennedy, “board advisor”: Hawthorn Advisors website at 16 October 2020
  1. Perhaps John Evans, co-founder and chief executive of Hawthorn, would enlighten me. Nevertheless Mr Evans didn’t respond to emails, either (December last year).
  2. Ms Kennedy has since vanished from the Hawthorn website.
  3. Married to Lord Bruce Dundas, Ms Kennedy is also known as Lady Dundas. On 2 December 2015, The Independent online newspaper published an interview of Ms Kennedy. There it gushed: “Together, she and her husband move in some of London’s wealthiest and best-connected circles and are used to solving problems by engaging the help of friends and experts.”
  4. On 8 July 2020, the Daily Mirror newspaper quoted the Conservative Party: “Ben Elliot has nothing to do with the running of Hawthorn or its clients.”
  5. As the owner of Mr Elliot’s Hawthorn shares in a trust, Ms Kennedy is acting in his interest with his authority. In addition, she is or was a “board advisor”.
  6. Mr Elliot is or was therefore hardly uninvolved at Hawthorn while Ms Kennedy is or was a “board advisor”.
  7. The Tory Party didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Lord Botham breaches the advertising rules

  1. Lord Ian “Beefy” Botham recently breached the advertising rules – by failing to make clear an ad was an ad.
  2. On 24 December 2020, the former England cricketer and charity walker used Christmas to tweet a gushing endorsement of Dickinson & Morris and its products. Dickinson & Morris is a leading manufacturer of pork pies (screen shot in Figure 1).
Figure 1. Lord Ian Botham: tweet about Dickinson & Morris dated 24 December 2020
  1. Beefy’s post was an ad – but the peer failed to label the tweet as an ad: he didn’t use the label “#ad”, for example.
  2. On 15 January 2021, I complained about the ad to advertising regulator the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). In its same-day response, the ASA upheld my complaint, concluding: “We have been in touch with Ian Botham and Dickinson & Morris and provided them with guidance on what we expect of brands and influencers on social media.”
  3. Lord Botham didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Charta Alliance Limited: another unauthorised introducer for Imperial Corporate Capital PLC

  1. Here I reveal another unauthorised introducer for property developer and investor Imperial Corporate Capital PLC (ICC): Charta Alliance Limited.
  2. Charta Alliance Limited (“Charta Alliance”) isn’t authorised or regulated by regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
  3. On 4 November 2020, Charta Alliance promoted ICC in a tweet, where the unauthorised introducer says: “They [ICC] had huge success with their previous project, and are now looking for investors for their latest development.” (screen shot in Figure 1).
Figure 1. Charta Alliance Limited: tweet promoting Imperial Corporate Capital PLC dated 4 November 2020
  1. ICC, of course, isn’t authorised or regulated by the FCA, either.
  2. ICC is an issuer of what the FCA calls speculative mini-bonds. On 1 January 2021, the FCA permanently banned promotion of high-risk speculative mini-bonds to most retail consumers. Previously, the ban was temporary (see 7 December 2020 post).
  3. Charta Alliance is the fifth – yes, fifth – unauthorised introducer for ICC I’ve written about.
  4. It’s bad enough Charta Alliance isn’t FCA-authorised. Worse, the regulator issued a warning about the unauthorised firm on 10 June 2020.
  5. On 27 October 2020, Charta Alliance changed its name to Allied Infinity Consultants Limited, according to Companies House records. Nevertheless at date of publication both the Charta Alliance website and Twitter feed are still up.
  6. Whatever its name, investors should avoid the unauthorised introducer – as they should ICC and its speculative mini-bonds.