Banks to chase Walker's family to recover debts

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The Independent Online
JEAN and Jason Walker, the wife and son of the former Brent Walker chairman, George Walker, are likely to be pursued to recover a substantial amount of his pounds 180m of debts.

The banks that petitioned successfully for Mr Walker to be declared bankrupt - led by TSB, Standard Chartered and Credit Suisse - are preparing to move against the former middleweight boxer's family in an attempt to recover some of the massive amounts they are set to lose.

Lawyers acting for the banks estimate that Mr Walker's personal estate might be worth only pounds 150,000, and that it will have been eaten up by the legal costs of the seven-month battle to have him made bankrupt.

Mr Walker, who is also facing fraud and theft charges relating to pounds 12.5m of money missing from the Brent Walker leisure group, has said he will appeal. If he does not do so, or the appeal fails, the banks will then apply to have a trustee in bankruptcy appointed, who is likely to be Ray Hocking of Stoy Hayward.

It is expected that Mr Hocking will then request interviews with Mr and Mrs Walker and Jason. He can force them to attend using powers under Section 366 of the Insolvency Act. These interviews are held under oath, and if the person asked to be interviewed declines, he or she can be jailed for contempt of court.

The banks wish to find out more information about companies either controlled by the Walker family and its trusts, or which appear to have a relationship with them. These include Walkers International SA, a Monaco- registered company controlled by Mrs Walker that has been employing Mr Walker in its Russian trading activities.

The banks will also want to find out more about Richard BV, a Netherlands Antilles company that has said it will proceed with legal actions against Brent Walker to recover pounds 14.5m it claims to be owed, which it said it would pay to Mr Walker's creditors. However, it has yet to go ahead with the legal action.

Bankers suspect that money from Mr Walker's estate might have passed into the hands of his family. They will be pressing Mrs Walker and Jason, who has regularly attended Mr Walker's court hearings, for any money that can be proved to have come from Mr Walker. The banks may apply to the courts to see whether other members of the family can be held accountable for a proportion of Mr Walker's debts.

The ruling by the Vice-Chancellor, the Rt Hon Sir Donald Nichols, that made Mr Walker bankrupt described an affidavit signed by Mrs Walker as 'highly misleading'.

This referred to Mrs Walker's protestations of poverty when, as first revealed in the Independent on Sunday, she had recently received a pounds 340,000 compensation payment from Brent Walker. Mrs Walker tried to reverse the transaction by returning a cheque for pounds 214,000 to Brent Walker, though ultimately some of the money was used to pay her legal bills and pounds 260,000 was paid into her pension fund.

(Photograph omitted)

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