Valuable Greenwich art 'no longer missing' after venue chain collapsed 'owing £6m to taxman'

News Shopper: Inside the Spread Eagle before it was stripped Inside the Spread Eagle before it was stripped

VALUABLE art which disappeared when a company running a string of Greenwich restaurants and bars went into liquidation is no longer missing, administrators say.

Greenwich Inc Trading Ltd, owned by American businessman Frank Dowling, went into administration last year, allegedly owing the taxman £6m, and is believed to be under investigation by HM Revenue & Customs.

The company ran a host of Greenwich venues which now face an uncertain future including the Spread Eagle, which had valuable artwork stripped from it before its closure.

Investigations by administrator Griffins have found a storage unit in Deptford and a unit at Anchor Iron wharf in Greenwich, though these are said to just be filled with pub chairs and other paraphernalia.

However, Stephen Hunt from Griffins said: "In terms of more valuable stuff, we've got a reasonable handle on that and we're working through it.

"Generally we're on top of the missing assets."

He would not be drawn on the details but added: "I wouldn't describe them as missing anymore."

Though some of Inc's venues have shut, others are now being run by the administrator, with some profits up by 20 per cent. Mr Hunt said there was likely to be an announcement on progress with the venues' future "towards the end of the month".

And he said: "On the whole the business is probably healthier than before we took it over in October."

Meanwhile a statement of proposals by Griffins, approved by creditors and Mr Dowling himself this week, detailed the run-up to the company's administration for the first time.

The document states Mr Dowling was told in June 2012 that the company was insolvent and should be placed into liquidation.

But, instead, the company continued to trade for more than a year and, at the same time, new businesses were incorporated in Scotland to acquire the venues with no payment to Greenwich Inc.

The venues were transferred to these new companies before a meeting of creditors was called to place Inc into liquidation in October.

And the report goes on to say a review of the accounts by administrators showed the company owed a staggering £3.9m in VAT and a further £2.1m in PAYE, stating the director and others had been arrested by HMRC.

After administrators went in to each venue they "found that every venue had been cleared of any cash as well as a number of items which had previously been on display."

And it states: "It quickly transpired that none of the staff had been paid for the work they had done in November, a situation they were not unaccustomed to."

Mr Hunt told News Shopper there was still some trouble securing payment for those staff.

- A worker at Greenwich Inc said they were unable to comment and then hung up the phone.

What happened to the Greenwich venues?

Greenwich Tavern - Disposed of on September 2012.

Trafalgar Tavern - The lease was never in the name of Greenwich Inc. It was put in the name of Trident Hall Ltd with Inc as guarantor.

Trident Hall Ltd - Sold the lease to another Dowling-owned company for £4.25m last June.

Admiral Hardy (including Inc Bar) - Transferred to Hardy Inc Lease Ltd, ultimately owned by Mr Dowling.

The Great British Fish and Chip Shop - Disposed of in March 2012.

Spread Eagle - Now under control of joint administrators. Now closed. Premises handed back to landlord.

Bar de Musee - Sold in October 2012. Now Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant.

Coach and Horses - Disposed of to a third party in May 2012.

Inc Brasserie - Disposed of to a third party in May 2012.

American Sports Bar and Grill and Union Square, The O2 - Under control of administrators. Trading will carry on until April when the leases expire, then likely to close.

Inc Club, The O2 - Closed in November.

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