Top chef's ex-business partner is fined over company law
Wednesday 07 January 2004
A former business partner of Marco Pierre White who is one of Soho's biggest landlords was fined £200,000 yesterday for illegally running companies.
Oscar Owide used his son and a senior employee as frontmen "flagrantly" to breach a court order and continue managing his lucrative concerns in the West End of London.
Owide, 72, a former East End hairdresser, built his reputation over three decades running restaurants, lap-dancing clubs and hostess bars. In the 1960s, stars, politicians and aristocrats frequented his West End nightclubs.
In 2002, Owide wanted to make his businesses respectable and house them in upmarket venues. In partnership with Mr White and the club owner Piers Adam, he turned the Stork Club and the Crazy Horse in Swallow Street, cental London into a club called the Stork Rooms, but it closed after six months.
Government investigators had meanwhile been alerted to the fact that he was running businesses despite past convictions, including an 18-month prison term for VAT fraud in 1989 and a court order not to serve as a director after being struck off in February 2000.
On Monday, Owide pleaded guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court to four offences under the Company Directors Disqualification Act.
The court heard that Owide had continued to pull the strings behind the scenes. He dealt with lawyers, hired auditors, and arranged business meetings.
James Pavry, prosecuting, told the court that Owide had been banned from running any companies in February 2000. because he had failed to keep financial records for a company which subsequently went into voluntary liquidation with £500,000 debts.
Despite the order, the defendantspent the next two-and-a-half years managing his business interests on a "day-to-day" basis, the court heard. "This was a wilful defiance of the law, rather than acting in ignorance of it," counsel said.
Prosecutors said Owide persuaded Giuseppe De Wilde, the general manager of Bentley's Seafood Restaurant, to become director of Pearldan Ltd, the company behind the restaurant. Owide's son, Daniel, was appointed director of three other concerns, although Mr De Wilde later took over those posts as well.
Mr Pavry said: "But while the defendant had resigned from his directorships he continued to be concerned in these companies. His involvement was extensive. He continued to make important decisions relating to the financial affairs of the companies."
DTI investigators discovered that Owide at one stage negotiated a £3,000 a week charge from Pearldan to its parent company, which also remained under his control. As a result £232,000, including rent, was handed over. Mr Pavry said the businessman also played a central role in an agreement under which Mr White and Mr Adam would help to redevelop two ailing Regent Street nightspots that he owned.
"Mr White thought it expedient to do so, although as a restaurateur and not a night club owner he was not so much interested in acquiring the premises as he was in acquiring the prestigious Bentley's sea food restaurant [nearby]," counsel told the court.
The partnership was short lived, with Mr White later telling the DTI he had never suspected the defendant had been disqualified as a director.
Passing sentence yesterday Judge Samuels said: "This is a flagrant breach of the order ... [that] requires no elaboration at all and normally in cases of so flagrant a breach a court necessarily has to consider the imposition of a custodial sentence."
But he decided against this, because of Owide's age, poor state of health and his guilty plea. Owide, of St John's Wood, north-west London, who also owns properties in Spain, was fined £50,000 on each of the four offences he had admitted. He will also have to pay £30,000 costs and face a further eight years' disqualification.
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ferguson decision: Tea Party website mocks Michael Brown's family over T-shirt typo
Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over
Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
Derren Brown on the disappointment of coming out: 'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 4 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 5 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film