Saturday, 2 March 2013

PLEASURAMA & CRIMINAL CLLR EZIKIEL SECRET REPORT

About 6 months ago somone passed me a copy of a what appears to be a secret report complied by Conservative party members about  the Pleasurama  Development. I have no way of knowing if this report is genuine or not. But I do know of other people in Thanet who have seen this report and belive that it is genuine.

It is a very long document and apart from red acting some names. I publish it in full.

 
Brief Account of the Meeting with Clr Sandy Ezekial and ???? of Thanet District Council,

 Introduction

 
Sadly, 1 am writing this account on Thursday, 11 September 2003, which means that my

recollections are not so fresh as they were immediately after the meeting. However, the

main facts remain clear in my head.

 
The Meeting

 
We decided to open the meeting with a statement of the facts as they could be represented

by hostile outsiders, rather than seek to have these facts admitted by questioning. This

second strategy might have had more impact, but might easily have been diverted by

irrelevant detail from ??? and a continual evasion of the questions. So Sean opened

with the following statement:

 

Councillor Ezekial, you are involved in a large property transaction with a

company that claims an association with a Swiss bank - we know this to

be untrue; that claims the support of Whitbread - we know this to be false;

that has no office in this country that we have been able to find; that is

registered in a well-known tax haven that was until recently on the OECD

black list for money laundering; the directors of which are unknown to the

public. It is reasonable to assume that this lack of actual association with

the Swiss bank and with Whitbread has had something to do with the

considerable delays in submitting a planning application, as this would

require the spending of £15,000 that SFP does not presently have. Looked

at from the outside, all this suggests a scandal. Wild claims are circulating

in Thanet about the people behind SFP. The most moderate conclusion is

that it is a front for persons connected with the Council.

 

The mention of the term 'scandal' brought forth strenuous denials from both

Mr.??? and Councillor Ezekial that there was anything untoward going on here.

Councillor Ezekial emphasised that the matter had been referred both to the District

Auditor and the Council's own Compliance Officer and both had pronounced themselves

satisfied with the probity of the proposed transaction.

 

??? tried to pour scorn on all of our points. He claimed that he had overheard all

manner of wild rumours which he claimed were common fare among the locals but which

were all spurious.

 

David then raised the matter of the planning application which had still not materialised.

Mr.??? replied by saying that such application was 'imminent' although he went

on to admit that he was expecting it in 'four to six weeks'. He also went to great lengths

to point out the complexity and expense involved in making the application which, of

necessity, had to include plans for highways, drainage and such.

 

When pressed for information about the directors of SFP he claimed that all relevant

information would be made public as soon as the development deal was signed, which

would be in about a month. He also stressed that the development contract provided that

SFP did not get paid until the development was complete so this was more or less a

guarantee that the land would be properly developed.

 

He went on to declare that all matters were in hand and he was quite confident that the

deal would go ahead as planned.

 

However, the letter from SBP disclaiming all association with SFP threw him off

balance. We followed by pointing out that the SFP business stationery carried the SBP

Geneva address. He tried to claim a continuing interest from Whitbread, but was again

thrown by a report of the conversation between Jamie Cowen, the Acquisitions Manager

of Whitbread, with Sean on the 26th August, disassociating Whitbread from all further

involvement in the Pleasurarna redevelopment.

 

??? argued that Whitbread was not directly a financial backer, but had only

considered running the hotel. David countered by arguing that the claimed fact of

Whitbread involvement would be sufficient to get meetings with financial backers who

might otherwise not be interested. Again, ??? was visibly embarrassed.

 

We explained that the media were already aware of this matter and that it was only a

matter of time before ??? and Ezekial began to receive telephone enquiries from

the media. He asked how much experience they had of dealing with such questions.

 

We pushed hard with questions about compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

No satisfactory answers were given. We then asked about the delays with the planning

application. ??? answered that the delays would not be endlessly tolerated, and that

the matter would be reconsidered if no application had been received by November 2003.

 

We then asked Cllr Ezekial: "Did you check with SFP that any profits from the

redevelopment would be retained in the United Kingdom for payment of United

Kingdom taxes?"

 
The answer: "No".


The rejoinder: "Why not?"

The answer: "It never occurred to us to do so."

 

??? tried to argue that such a requirement was unreasonable, since it was like

demanding to know the bona fides of anyone buying a property at auction. Our reply was

that an auction, in which goods went to whoever had the money, was entirely separate

from a tender, in which a continuing relationship was contracted on the basis of more

than price. We asked at this point about the Proceeds of Crime Act.

 
Ezekial said he knew who was behind SFP, but was unable to say until closer to the

signing of a contract of sale. However, he did confirm that Shaun Keegan was a Director

of SFP.

 

We raised the A.J. Brown proposal, noting that plans were available and that the
company had a definite presence in the United Kingdom, and that it was backed by parties known to have unlimited resources for any redevelopment. He asked why Thanet
had decided to continue with a very suspicious transaction when this one remained on
offer. No satisfactory offer was given.

 
<Removed> that the questions being asked were logically distinct from the reasons why

they were being asked. <removed>. He replied:

 

We are not accountable to any electors, or under the law, or to the

You are. You might try responding to our questions when they me put to

you by the media. by asking who is paying their salaries. It will not do.

 

??? was uncomfortable for most of the meeting and took the earliest opportunity to

wihdtraw. We had expressed disapproval of his presence at the beginning of meeting,

but accepted his presence when told that he would be useful to answer questions of detail.

However, as said he -soon gave up on trying to dominate the meeting. When we turned to

political matters, he withdrew.

 

Ezekial revealed to us that the deal would already have gone through had Labour won the

last elections, and that he had referred the matter to various modes of inspection, and that he had also demanded a £250,000 bond from ISPP.

 
 

REPORT ON THE PROPOSED SALE AND RE-DEVELOPMENT

OF THE PLEASURAMA SITE. RAMSGATE

 
AS AT 12th NOVEMBER 2003

 

 

This report is based on the investigations carried out by the Committee for the

Improvement of Sandwich Bay.

 

Appended documents are all copies of documents that are in the possession of the

Committee.

 

1. This report concerns the events surrounding the derelict site of former 'Pleasurama'

which is situated in a prime seafront location on the Ramsgate Marina and is owned

by Thanet District Council.

2. In 2002, the Council (then Labour-run) made the decision to sell the land for redevelopment

and invited appropriate tenders. Some 70 tender offers were received by

the Council from which a shortlist of the two most suitable offers was finalised.

3. The two 'finalists' were, on the one hand, a consortium of local businessmen led by

a local Chartered Architects A. J. Browne & Co and, on the other, was a company

called SFP Ventures Partners Limited (SFP). A.J. Browne & Co is a locally based

firm with a track record of successful development in the area and proper financial

backing. So keen was A.J. Browne & Co to publicise their plans (which included a

swimming pool and amphitheatre for use by local residents) that they issued a press

release about their proposals which appeared in the Thanet Times edition of 19th

November 2002 (Appendix 1). Nothing was known about the identity, backers or

proposals from SFP.

4. At a Cabinet Meeting which took place on 22nd November 2002, the Council

decided to award the development contract to SFP. Among those Councillors present

at that meeting was the future leader of the Council, Mr. Sandy E/ekial. a local

businessman and proprietor of a carpet shop in the Thanet area.

5. Brief announcement of the Council's decision appeared in the local press but

without mentioning any details or specifics. To this day no details of the SFP offer

appear to have been made public. However, A. J. Browne & Co had managed to

ascertain from local sources that the SFP offer included the construction of a hotel and

that Whitbread PLC had agreed to take over the running of that hotel once complete.

6. Despite the go-ahead having been given to a development company, local residents

saw no sign of any activity on the site. Neither did any application for planning

permission manifest itself. This caused some concern as the site is one of central and

major significance and its development was eagerly anticipated by local residents who

expected it to provide a boost both to the amenity and economy of the area.


 

7. In February 2003, Mr. Anthony Browne of AJ. Browne wrote to Thanet DC to

request details of the SFP Proposals. He received a reply from the Head of Planning

and Regeneration, Mr. P. ???, advising him that all matters were subject to

contract and, therefore, privileged. (Appendix 2). Mr.Browne found it very odd that

an important matter of the development of public property should be protected by

alleged privilege.

8. In May 2003, the Local Council elections saw the Conservatives take control of

Thanet District Council and Mr. Ezekial was appointed as leader of the Conservative

Group.

9. Again in May 2003, a group of Conservative supporting local residents formed the

Committee for the Improvement of Sandwich Bay. The Committee was formed in

direct response to the Conservative victory in the local elections. The purpose of the

Committee was to work with the new administration with a view to improving the

amenity of the area. Given its importance and prominence the Committee decided to

give the Pleasurama site priority attention.

10. On 4th June 2003, Dr. Gabb (President of the Committee) wrote to Mr. ???

requesting information about the site and progress in respect thereof. (Appendix 3).

No response was received. On 19th June 2003, Dr. Gabb wrote again to Mr.

??? (Appendix 4) and also to Mr. Ezekial (Appendix 5).

11. Mr. ??? did reply on 25th June 2003 (Appendix 6) but only briefly and

enclosing a copy of the Council Minutes for a meeting scheduled to take place on

26th June 2003 (Appendix 7).

12. Committee members made a search of the UK Companies Register but could find

no mention of any company called 'SFP Ventures Partners Ltd'.

13. The Minutes for the Council Meeting reveal a number of germane points:

(i) A legal dispute involving a Mr. J Godden and a company called Blueridge

Properties was not resolved until 3rd June 2003 (Clause 3.2)

(ii) It was expected that a development agreement would be agreed and implement by

the end of June 2003 (Clause 3.3)

(iii) Although it is mentioned that Whitbread PLC withdrew from the arrangement, it

is still mentioned that they were 'reconsidering' their position (Clause 3.5)

(iv) This project is being partly financed by the public purse at both national and EU

level (Clauses 3.8 to 3.11)

14. In the hope of obtaining clarification of matters, members of the Committee

attended a meeting with Mr. ??? and Mr. Ezekial at the Town Hall on 7th July

2003. At that meeting, we were assured by both of these gentlemen that all matters

were proceedings normally and that an application for planning permission from SFP

was expected in 'four to six weeks'. Mr. ??? further advised that SFP were an

arm of a Swiss merchant bank of the same name and so finance for the deal was no


 

problem. He also confirmed that SFP were, in fact, registered in the British Virgin

Islands and that was the reason why no trace of that company appears in any UK

database. When pressed for further information about SFP, its directors, offices and

beneficial owners, Mr. ??? claimed that he was not able to divulge such

information.

 

15. As a result of the information obtained from the meeting, the Committee made

further investigation into SFP from which the following was learned:


The British Virgin Islands does not maintain any sort of publicly accessible

Companies register.


It is a well-known tax haven.


Until 2002, it was on an OECD 'blacklist' as one of many territories not cooperating

with international attempts to curb money laundering.


SFP Ventures Partners Ltd has no office or other presence in this country.


There is a Swiss Bank called 'SFP' (Societe Financiere Privee) though it

changed its name to 'SBP' (Societe Bancaire Privee) in January 2003.


SBP made a substantial loss in the 2001-2002 trading year.


It does not appear to have any presence outside of Switzerland.


It is likely that the bank is forbidden by Swiss law from engaging in land

developments outside of Switzerland.

15. The Committee also obtained a photocopy of the business card of a Mr. Shaun

Keegan which bears the name and address of SFP Bank (now 'SBP'). The Committee

learned that this gentleman was distributing this card to local residents in 2002.

16. Because suspicions had been aroused, Dr. ???? wrote again to Mr. ??? on

10th July 2003 (Appendix 8) requesting confirmation as to the bona fides of SFP. Mr.

??? non-committal and evasive reply is dated 29th July 2003 (Appendix 9).

17. The Committee resolved at this time to seek a further meeting but this time with

Mr. Ezekial himself, in the hope that we could get to the bottom of these matters as

Mr. ??? was, for whatever reason, unwilling to co-operate.

18. On 4th August 2003, the Committee wrote to the Chairman of SBP (formerly

'SFP') in Switzerland requesting answers to the questions we had raised with Thanet

District Council but which had not been answered satisfactorily or at all (Appendix

10)

19. The Committee received a brief reply from the bank dated 12th August denying

that SFP Ventures Partners Ltd were either wholly or partly owned by the bank

(Appendix 11).

20. On 12th August 2003, the Committee wrote to Mr. Jamie Cowan of Whitbread

PLC to ask them to confirm whether or not that company was still concerned with the

Pleasurama development. (Appendix 12)


 

21. The Committee wrote to Mr. ??? again on 15th August 2003 (Appendix 13)

setting out, in details, the information that was still outstanding and to which the

Committee, as local residents, were entitled to request. The letter also mentions the

lack of progress in regard to the site which was now becoming a matter of

considerable concern to local residents and the subject of unsavoury rumours as to the

probity of the alleged redevelopment deal.

22. On 26th August 2003, Dr. ??? spoke on the telephone to Mr. Cowan regarding

the letter of 12th August. Mr. Cowan confirmed that Whitbread PLC had initially

shown interest in the deal but had subsequently pulled out because 'the numbers did

not stack up'. He further confirmed that Whitbread PLC had no further interest in the

project whatsoever.

23. Mr. ??? responded again with a letter of 26th August 2003 (Appendix 14)

which simply re-states previous non-committal positions and vague assurances. His

'replies' to the questions raised are obtuse (he claims not to know what is meant by

'tangible or authorised presence in the UK'), evasive (he seems unwilling to reveal

any information about the identity of the officers of SFP) or simply dismissive. The

Committee members were increasingly frustrated by this behaviour.

24. A further meeting with Mr. Ezekial was finally secured for 8th September 2003.

Mr. ??? also attended.


It was put to Mr. Ezekial that it appeared that the Council was proposing to

enter into a substantial arrangement with a developer which had no known

presence in the UK, which was based in an offshore tax haven and which

falsely claimed to be a subsidiary of a Swiss bank. The whole matter was

shrouded in secrecy and had all the appearance of a scandal. Various rumours

were circulating among the local residents, the most temperate of which was

that SFP was, in fact, a front for actual members of the Council.


All of this was strenuously denied by both Mr. Ezekial and Mr. ??? who

maintained that there was nothing untoward going on here.


Mr. Ezekial advised that the previous Labour administration had not followed

proper procedures and that he had rectified this by referring the matter to the

Council's own compliance officer for approval and the District Auditor. Both

officers had approved the transaction. He also said that he had demanded a

development bond for some £250,000.00.


Mr. ??? attempted to pour scorn on any allegations and claimed once

again the SFP were a perfectly respectable company backed by a Swiss Bank.

He was shown the letter from SBP dated denying any connection with SFP

which seemed to take him by surprise.


Mr. ??? also reiterated that Whitbread PLC were involved with the deal

and seemed equally taken aback when he was advised of the contents of the

telephone conversation between Mr. Cowan and Dr. Gabb referred to in point

22 above.


It was put to Mr. ??? that it was possible that the Whitbread PLC name

and reputation was being falsely used in order to enhance the bona fides of the

developers. Mr. ??? denied this.


 


Mr. ??? claimed that 'all would be revealed' in a press release due in

about a month and that he expected a planning application in 'about four to six

weeks' (again!)


Mr. Ezekial was reminded of the sad provenance of scandals that have

blighted the Conservative Party and which seem to come, most crucially, just

at the moment that the Party is experiencing a revival in its electoral fortunes.


Both Mr. Ezekial and Mr. ??? were reminded of the law governing the

behaviour of local authorities and as contained in the Local Government

(Model of Conduct) Order 2001. Both men said that the law had been

complied with.


The question of whether the profits from this venture were going to be subject

to UK taxes. In response both men said they had not given any consideration

to that matter.


When pressed to reveal the identity of the people behind SFP, Mr. ???

again refused to answer although Mr. Ezekial, when pressed, did admit that

Mr. Shaun Keegan was a director.


When pressed, Mr. Ezekial also confirmed that he would not be prepared to let

this matter 'drag on'. If no progress had been made by October/ November he

would demand that good reasons be given as to why.

25. On 10th September 2003, the Committee wrote again to the Chairman of SBP to

enquire as to whether they had any connection with Mr. Shaun Keegan (Appendix

15).

26. Also on 10th September 2003, the Committee wrote to Mr. ??? expressing

their dissatisfaction and disappointment at his failure to provide information in this

matter and setting out the reasons why his previous responses had been so inadequate

(Appendix 16). No reply has been received.

27. A further letter was sent by the Committee to Mr. Cowan of Whitbread PLC

warning him of the possibility that the good name and standing of his company was

being used to artificially bolster the bona fides of the Pleasurama development deal

(Appendix 17).

28. SBP replied to the Committee on 2nd October 2003 confirming that they had 'no

participation in SFP Ventures Partners Ltd' (Appendix 18).

29. On 1st October 2003 the 'Kent on Sunday' newspaper ran an article on the arrest

of Conservative Thanet Councillor Colin Kiddell on charges of fraud arising from a

development deal involving the 'Dreamland' site in Margate (Appendix 19).

30. On 16th October 2003 the report ofthe District Auditor into the handling of the

previous sale ofthe Pleasurama site was published. The report was very damning of

the previous Labour-run administration and highlighted many instances of

mismanagement and incompetence. Note: the present deal with SFP was agreed by

the previous Labour administration.

31. On 24th October 2003 the Committee wrote again to Mr. Ezekial reminding him

that the first anniversary ofthe agreement was now approaching and that there had

still been no progress on the site. The Committee expressed their surprise that a


 

Conservative Councillor of such repute should be seen to do nothing in the face of

mounting failure (Appendix 20).

 

32. On the same date another letter was sent to Mr. ??? expressing the

Committee's disgust at the palpable failure to note either any progress on the site or

any meaningful response from him to previous enquiries (Appendix 21). There has

been no response to this letter.

33. Also on 24th October 2003, the Isle of Thanet Gazette ran an article on the

District Auditor's highly critical report on the conduct of the previous administration

and the recommendations made as to how matters should be dealt with in future. In

the article Mr. Ezekial is quoted as saying that there are 'ongoing negotiations with

SFP Ventures' and "We hope that by Christtmas detailed plans for the site would have

been submitted" (Appendix 22).

34. In the same issue is another article in which current Conservative Councillors

denounce the appalling behaviour of the previous Labour administration (Appendix

23).

35. Mr. Ezekial replied to the Committee by a letter dated 30th October 2003 in which

he advised that Mr. ??? had now left the Council and that 'a full set of plans

had now been deposited with tour Planning Department' and that the 'Council has

acted in a proper manner' (Appendix 24).

Note: there is no evidence whatsoever to support the view that the Council has acted

in a 'proper manner'. In fact, quite the opposite would appear to be the case.

 
36. On 7th November 2003, the Isle of Thanet Gazette ran another article on the

proposed development of the Pleasurama site in which Mr. Ezekial is quoted as

saying:

"The developers have been working closely with the Council since they were

appointed"

 

And

 

"They have held regular meetings to update us on their progress with their scheme

and their proposals which are now available for local people to comment upon"

(Appendix 25)

 

No plans have been made public as far as the Committee is aware.

 

SUMMARY

 

1. The decision to award this tender to SFP was made by the previous Labour

administration which has since been found guilty of gross incompetence and

mismanagement.

The decision was apparently made on the basis of proposals and plans which have

never been made public.

3. It has been consistently claimed that the project has the support of a major public

company even though that has not been the case since the beginning of 2003.

4. SFP is a company which is registered in the British Virgin Islands where the law

allows companies to keep their records and details occluded from the public gaze.

5. The British Virgin Islands is well known as a tax haven for offshore investors

where profits can be put beyond the reach of the UK tax authorities.

6. SFP appears to have no office or presence in the UK.

7. The identity of the officers and beneficial owners of SFP is shrouded behind a veil

of secrecy.

8. The identity of the company's financial backers (if any) is unknown.

9. It has been claimed that SFP is the subsidiary of a Swiss bank which has publicly

denied any connection with them.

10. Legitimate and reasonable enquiries of the Council have been met with a

consistent wall of obfuscation, evasion and misinformation.

11. Despite the passage of 12 months since the tender was given to SFP the

Pleasurama site still lies untouched and derelict and there is not even any sign of the

oft-promised planning application

 

The evidence presented in this report has given rise to grave misgivings among the

members of the Committee. It seems remarkable that the circumstances surrounding

this purported redevelopment would not cause a reasonably prudent Councillor or

Council Officer at last some concern. If it transpires that there is a lack of probity in

this matter then it would not be very hard for some local or national media

organisation to uncover it and make it public.

 

As redoubtable Conservative supporters, the members of the Committee are

particularly anxious about the image of the Party at this delicate time when it appears

that a long-awaited turnaround in its electoral fortunes may be afoot. It hardly needs

stating that the Party can ill-afford yet another damaging scandal at either local or

national level.

 

We are therefore of the opinion that this matter should be looked into as a matter of

considerable urgency.

21 comments:

  1. I was shocked to read in the newspaper that Roger Gale MP spoke up for Sandy. Roger has a track record of backing the loosing horse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you have a track record of spelling "losing" as "loosing"!

      Delete
    2. Maybe so but thats not a crime

      Delete
    3. On the contrary 10:32, It shows what a con artist Eziekel was/is. And I note that Ezekiel is spelt incorrectly twice by our beloved blogger, and throughout the alleged document.

      Delete
    4. Nonsense, he didnt need to con anyone.Eziekel conned GALE, someone who has been an MP since the 80's?... total bull - Cop out!

      Delete
    5. If the local Conservatives cared as much about choosing the right leader, as they did about spelling, they would have saved the taxpayer a lot of stress

      Delete
  2. I can hear the sound of shredders, deletion of emails and texts, threats to potential whistle-blowers etc. Sue McGonigal has distanced herself from these shady transactions as will every officer at the time. The Labour cabinet will be mad to sell the freehold against this low cunning, at least, background. The council should take the risk of being sued then perhaps legal action will enable people who were concerned at the time to come out or fear being complicit. This revolting type of fraud has been happening amongst some councillors and some officers for decades. These amoral people must be outed!

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG If this document is true it means that numerous councillors knew all about this.....and said nothing. I think we need a Public Inquiry. Just how far does the rot go? Any councillor or officer who knew about this (and there would appear to be many) and did nothing, isn't fit for office.

    ReplyDelete
  4. http://in2thanet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/ukplanning-pleasurama.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mcgonigal's in it upto her neck as Finance Director then and both CE and Finance Director now. Jail.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is it any wonder that the Thanet Conservative's shadow Cabinet have allowed the homophobic hate criminal Gregory and the Drunk Driver Tomlinson to remain members of their council group, after all these are the same people that served under the convicted criminal leader Sandy Ezekiel... this is why they have such a repugnant value system

    ReplyDelete
  7. this whole mess should be handed to the police for criminal investigation as it seems many a dodgy deal has been done local suits defo involved in this fake company fraud on a major scale has been done or is being done we residence of the town are being fed a load of billy bull s--t

    ReplyDelete
  8. Roger Gale backed Aitken right to the end. He accused those demanding the resignation of an expenses-fiddling fellow Tory MP of a "witch-hunt". Now he backs Ezekiel. He recently tried to tidy up his divorce record by saying his second wife died, when in fact he had already divorced her. And then he uses his bible-fuelled prejudice to try and claim the moral high ground over those in the LGBT community. What a ******* liberty. He has not a shred of credibility left. The old f*rt should go.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, it's all starting to make sense now - some of those character witnesses have some very dodgy links so be very careful and make sure you stay safe.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'd not heard of "The Committee for the Improvement of Sandwich Bay" before. Do you have any idea who they are or what their aims are?

    ReplyDelete
  11. How many other dangerous decisions have Roger Gale made?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't think I ever had a moment where I trusted Ezekiel. So, if he conned Roger Gale, are we not entitled to ask just how naive Roger Gale is? After all, this is supposed to be 'his patch' and if you don't know what's going on on your own patch what use are you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure you are entitled to ask, but whether you will get any answers is another matter. On the Roger Gale issue, it is not actually his patch being North Thanet, for Ezekiel represented a ward in South Thanet.

      Delete
  13. Bayford shares an office with Painter? Can he shed light on this as he's Tory Leader?

    ReplyDelete
  14. "The Committee for the Improvement of Sandwich Bay" The chairman died in 2006 and at that point they passed their file on to an indepedent councillor for Central ward and who became a Tory. dont ask me I have no idea. the person I spoke to said "cant get involved dont want bricks thru my windows"

    ReplyDelete