UKTI selects fake UK company for overseas market visit

  1. Government department UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) recently selected a fake UK company, British Eco Power Ltd, for one of its overseas market visits. This failure to conduct due diligence calls into question the competence of UKTI.
  2. For the background on British Eco Power Ltd, see my previous post.
  3. UKTI is charged with increasing exports by UK-based businesses. Operating from regional offices, one way it does this is by organising overseas market visits for local businesses.
  4. The UKTI London and South East market visit to South Africa in October 2014 included British Eco Power Ltd. Here is the official brochure for the UKTI trade mission: http://capechamber.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/South-Africa-Brochure.pdf. Carl Woolf, who led the trade mission, confirmed in an email that it’s a genuine UKTI document. Figure 1 is a screen shot of the front cover of the brochure.

    Figure 1. UKTI market visit brochure: front cover at 12 April 2016

    Figure 1. UKTI market visit brochure: front cover at 12 April 2016

  5. British Eco Power Ltd appears on p.8 of the brochure (screen shot in Figure 2). Yet British Eco Power Ltd isn’t registered at Companies House. It’s illegal for a company to claim to be a limited company if the company isn’t registered at Companies House as a limited company.

    Figure 2. UKTI market visit brochure: p.8 at 12 April 2016

    Figure 2. UKTI market visit brochure: p.8 at 12 April 2016

  6. I asked company director Abbey King Khawaja in an email: “How did you get UKTI to select for the trade mission a company not registered at Companies House?” Not receiving a reply, I sent a reminder a week later. This time I did hear from him: “Presently on business travels across the globe,” he wrote. At date of publication this evasive message is the only one I’ve received from Mr Khawaja on the issue.
  7. Mr Woolf at UKTI refused to comment when I brought to his attention that a company in the trade visit he led wasn’t – and still isn’t – registered at Companies House. He referred me to the company on the matter.
  8. I sent a request for comment to the UKTI press office: “How and why was a company not registered at Companies House included within the UKTI trade visit to South Africa?” A spokesman said in an email: “UKTI works with a range of businesses seeking to develop internationally. We note that not all businesses are required to register with Companies House: sole traders for example only need to register with HMRC and are defined as people who work for themselves, but may still employ staff or subcontract. Many such micro businesses are highly successful exporters.”
  9. This response from UKTI is inadequate because the information isn’t relevant. When I went back to the press office, a spokeswoman declined to comment. “As you know, we wouldn’t comment on individual companies so I won’t be able to give you a response on the specific company you name,” she wrote. Again, inadequate. I then asked in an email: “Why is UKTI seemingly avoiding accountability for its selection of this particular company for a UKTI market visit?” The spokeswoman replied: “I will look into it for you and let you know if there’s anything else I can provide.” Despite a reminder, at date of publication I’ve heard nothing more from UKTI.
  10. UKTI states in the brochure that it “carefully selected” the UK companies for its market visit to South Africa in October 2014 (screen shot in Figure 3). Not carefully enough: British Eco Power Ltd is a fake company. This failure to conduct due diligence calls into question the competence of UKTI.

    Figure 3. UKTI market visit brochure: p.1 at 12 April 2016

    Figure 3. UKTI market visit brochure: p.1 at 12 April 2016

Director of fake company is official supporter of the Conservatives – and company claims backing of prime minister

  1. The director of a fake company was a signatory in its name to last year’s open letter to the Daily Telegraph from more than 5 000 small business owners backing the Conservatives before the general election. The letter, which the newspaper put on its front page 27 April 2015, was orchestrated by Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) and promoted by Karren Brady, the TV star and a Tory peer. Meanwhile, the fake company claims the backing of prime minister David Cameron.
  2. Abbey King Khawaja is signatory 671 to the Telegraph’s letter: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/11565080/The-5000-small-business-owners-supporting-David-Cameron-and-the-Conservatives.html. He signs as director of British Eco Power Ltd of London (screen shot in Figure 1). Yet there’s no company of that name registered at Companies House.

    Figure 1. Abbey King Khawaja: signatory 671 to the Telegraph's letter at 9 February 2016

    Figure 1. Abbey King Khawaja: signatory 671 to the Telegraph’s letter at 9 February 2016

  3. The British Eco Power website is elaborate and detailed: www.britishecopower.com. No registered company number, though. The website creates the impression British Eco Power operates across the world, working with international partners. But the partners page, including the right-hand “newsroom” section, is unchanged between 10 December 2012 (web.archive.org/web/20121210121915/http://britishecopower.com/partners.html) and 4 April 2016 (web.archive.org/web/20160404050000/http://britishecopower.com/partners.html). The exact two dates are arbitrary, just when snapshots of the page were saved in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
  4. Mr Khawaja used to be a director of the firm Britsh [sic] Eco Power Ltd, whose name appears to be deliberately misspelled without the second “i” (registered company number: 08421038). He resigned as a director 6 October 2015. I can’t find a website for what’s a non-trading company, according to Companies House records. It has filed two sets of accounts there, both as a dormant company. In July 2015, Britsh [sic] Eco Power was nearly struck off the public register. Not a good sign.
  5. Back to the fake company. Mr Khawaja is politically well-connected, according to his biography on the British Eco Power website: “Abbey has supported the present Conservative Government as well as the Conservative Arab Network in London and has good relations with all leading UK parliamentarians, ambassadors and diplomatic community leaders in London.” (screen shot in Figure 2). Quite a boast. But the alleged political connections don’t end there. British Eco Power claims the backing of prime minister David Cameron (screen shot in Figure 3).
    Figure 2. Abbey King Khawaja biography at 9 February 2016

    Figure 2. Abbey King Khawaja biography at 9 February 2016

    Figure 3. Prime minster backs British Eco Power Ltd at 9 February 2016

    Figure 3. Prime minister backs British Eco Power Ltd at 9 February 2016

  6. I repeatedly rang the landline phone number – “for all worldwide enquiries” – on the British Eco Power website (screen shot in Figure 4) as I have a few questions. Yet there’s only a recorded message: “This is a digital mail dmClub phone number. It is currently unused and available for sale. For more information, please call 0870 446 0870. That’s 0870 446 0870.”

    Figure 4. Contact us page at 9 February 2016

    Figure 4. Contact us page at 9 February 2016

  7. I asked Mr Khawaja in an email to his personal address if he’d care to comment on the fact that his company British Eco Power Ltd isn’t registered at Companies House. In his same-day reply he wanted to know the reason for the enquiry. I said it’s illegal for a company to claim to be a limited company if the company isn’t registered at Companies House as a limited company. He wrote in his answer: “Britsh [sic] Eco Power Limited is legally registered in the UK”. That’s the company whose name appears to be deliberately misspelled without the second “i”. I then pointed out in another email that these are two different companies – but with confusingly similar names. I finished by asking: “Or have I misunderstood?” At date of publication I haven’t received an answer.
  8. This is the first time to my knowledge that an unambiguously fake company has been found on the Telegraph’s letter of support for the Conservatives from more than 5 000 supposed small business owners. Within hours of publication, dissolved companies and duplicate names had been identified: www.mirror.co.uk/news/ampp3d/truth-those-5000-small-businesses-5592693. Someone – Karren Brady? – should tell Number 10 that British Eco Power claims the backing of the prime minister.

“Serious regulatory concerns” at Our Local Heroes Foundation, says Charity Commission

  1. On 30 March 2016, the Charity Commission published a highly critical “case report” on Our Local Heroes Foundation (OLHF), a military veterans charity (registered charity number: 1142029). The “serious regulatory concerns” at the charity include “a very low level” of charitable expenditure and “high” fundraising costs – only 20% of the money raised in its name actually goes to the charity. Here is the Charity Commission case report: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-local-heroes-foundation-case-report.
  2. As you can see, OLHF only avoided a statutory inquiry, the commission’s most serious form of engagement with a charity, because the trustees showed an “open and responsible approach” in their dealings with the commission.
  3. On 30 March 2016, The Telegraph reported the Charity Commission case report, with responses from both OLHF and the company that organises its fundraising, Targeted Management Limited (TML; registered company number: 09036445): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/30/war-veterans-charity-spent-just-two-percent-of-income-on-grants/.
  4. In 2014, I exclusively exposed OLHF for both its excessive fundraising costs and highly misleading ways of working, as regular readers of this blog will know.
  5. TML of Blackpool is an opaque company: https://dralexmay.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/targeted-management-limited-censorship-and-secrecy/. Further, at date of publication there is still no mention of TML on the OLHF website. Its role(s) at the charity should not be hidden. Shameful.
  6. Meanwhile, at date of publication TML’s first accounts are weeks overdue at Companies House. Not a good sign.