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VIP SKI go into administration

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Mother hucker wrote:
@lower, no one's a shysters till the shyster hits the fan and then the shysters reveal themselves.
You think trading successfully is going pop at the back end of the season when most revenue would already have been taken?

I think trading successfully is running a profitable and popular business for 30 years.

VIP went into administration before they took the bulk of the money from their customers. If they were dodgy, they’d have been insisting on full payment 10 weeks before travel as their payment terms stated. They didn’t. They allowed existing customers with booked holidays to defer paying 50% of the balance till 4 weeks before the holiday started. When they did go under, their customers, ATOL and the credit card companies lost significantly less than they could have done.

Any business is going to struggle or fail when sales stop coming in. Who could have foreseen a pandemic of this nature?

It’s easy to jump in and accuse people of being dodgy from behind a screen. VIP will be one of thousands of travel businesses that go bust this season. Do you think they’re all dodgy?

Ps I’m a repeat VIP customer who is currently reclaiming my deposit from my credit card company. I’m pleased VIP are coming back, and I’ll be booking with them again.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@lower, good to hear experiences direct from a client. Based on that, sounds like VIP acquitting themselves much better than other TOs we've heard about in recent months.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Let's hope that before they went into adminstration any cash they had taken in had primarily gone to (non owner) staff, HMRC and 3rd party suppliers. It would unfortunately look a little sleazy if it had gone significantly on rents on properties they themselves owned.
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I would hope that payments made just followed when they were due, so if rents were due per contract they got paid. The administrator should be looking for preferences given but how hard they will look given it was likely a friendly appointment?
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@lower, There was literally 4 weeks of the season left and 3/4 of the seasons takings in the gas tank.
I'm not accusing or defending any one. I would have thought after 30 years of succesfull trading and making a profit. There would have been a bit left over to ride the storm.
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Mother hucker wrote:
@lower, There was literally 4 weeks of the season left and 3/4 of the seasons takings in the gas tank.
I'm not accusing or defending any one. I would have thought after 30 years of succesfull trading and making a profit. There would have been a bit left over to ride the storm.

They went bust in November. The season hadn’t even started.

They had allowed customers to defer 50% of the payments until 4 weeks before travel. How does that equate to 3/4 of the seasons takings?

They’d lost the end of the previous season, and it was completely unknown how much of this season would run. They’d have had to staff and gear up for the entire season with associated costs, and with hindsight we now know that it was unlikely any holidays could go ahead. They were probably struggling for bookings as customers were understandably nervous about booking.

That would have potentially meant a whole season’s worth of cost with no revenue on top of the costs they no doubt picked up at the end of last season. I think they would have needed more than just a bit left over.....

I run a business. I can assure you that when you have no sales you rack up losses far faster than you earn profits when times are good.

I’m not surprised they went into administration and it was entirely sensible and normal for them to structure the business in a way that protected their asserts.

I also think it’s entirely unfair to trash someone’s reputation when you no idea of the detail. If they had regularly bubbled the company, I’d agree with you. But the are literally thousands, if not hundreds of decent companies going bust at the moment through no fault of their own.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Mon 18-01-21 16:17; edited 1 time in total
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lower wrote:
Mother hucker wrote:
@lower, There was literally 4 weeks of the season left and 3/4 of the seasons takings in the gas tank.
I'm not accusing or defending any one. I would have thought after 30 years of succesfull trading and making a profit. There would have been a bit left over to ride the storm.

They went bust in November. The season hadn’t even started.

They had allowed customers to defer 50% of the payments until 4 weeks before travel. How does that equate to 3/4 of the seasons takings?



[orange]Super snowHeads[/orange] pay extra money to admin, which meaning they can make things up and pretty much say what they like about anyone while posting on here.
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Gerry wrote:
lower wrote:
Mother hucker wrote:
@lower, There was literally 4 weeks of the season left and 3/4 of the seasons takings in the gas tank.
I'm not accusing or defending any one. I would have thought after 30 years of succesfull trading and making a profit. There would have been a bit left over to ride the storm.

They went bust in November. The season hadn’t even started.

They had allowed customers to defer 50% of the payments until 4 weeks before travel. How does that equate to 3/4 of the seasons takings?



[orange]Super snowHeads[/orange] pay extra money to admin, which meaning they can make things up and pretty much say what they like about anyone while posting on here.
Obviously, @Gerry is lying.

What's happening here, Gerry, is a conversation. That is when two or more people with different or complementary views, express them to each other without getting in a childish strop and calling each other names.

It's often a controversial issue when a company goes into administration and all the more so when the owner 'phoenixes' it by buying back a selection of its assets, leaving liabilities behind. Sometimes it's perfectly reasonable and justified while sometimes it's clearly highly immoral. The devil is in the detail.
Hence, it is perfectly understandable that people express cynicism and it is just as fair for people to express support. Each has potential to provide greater insight into the actual truth and reason behind the situation. Although it is also important to remember that opinions do not necessarily equate to facts: this helps us maintain balance in our understanding.
Such insight, Gerry, matters more IMHO than who wins a fight, which frankly proves very little. So please don't be undermining perfectly reasonable discussion by trying to turn it into another personal scrap.
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admin wrote:
Gerry wrote:
lower wrote:
Mother hucker wrote:
@lower, There was literally 4 weeks of the season left and 3/4 of the seasons takings in the gas tank.
I'm not accusing or defending any one. I would have thought after 30 years of succesfull trading and making a profit. There would have been a bit left over to ride the storm.

They went bust in November. The season hadn’t even started.

They had allowed customers to defer 50% of the payments until 4 weeks before travel. How does that equate to 3/4 of the seasons takings?



[orange]Super snowHeads[/orange] pay extra money to admin, which meaning they can make things up and pretty much say what they like about anyone while posting on here.
Obviously, @Gerry is lying.

What's happening here, Gerry, is a conversation. That is when two or more people with different or complementary views, express them to each other without getting in a childish strop and calling each other names.

It's often a controversial issue when a company goes into administration and all the more so when the owner 'phoenixes' it by buying back a selection of its assets, leaving liabilities behind. Sometimes it's perfectly reasonable and justified while sometimes it's clearly highly immoral. The devil is in the detail.
Hence, it is perfectly understandable that people express cynicism and it is just as fair for people to express support. Each has potential to provide greater insight into the actual truth and reason behind the situation. Although it is also important to remember that opinions do not necessarily equate to facts: this helps us maintain balance in our understanding.
Such insight, Gerry, matters more IMHO than who wins a fight, which frankly proves very little. So please don't be undermining perfectly reasonable discussion by trying to turn it into another personal scrap.


'it is perfectly understandable that people express cynicism' is it acceptable to slag people off without definitive proof? We are often told on here by your closest followers that we mustn't 'speculate'. Maybe there needs to be some healthy speculation about you?


Last edited by You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net. on Mon 18-01-21 16:58; edited 2 times in total
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Mother hucker wrote:
I would have thought after 30 years of succesfull trading and making a profit. There would have been a bit left over to ride the storm.


You would have thought so, but they've had four years of losses, and it also appears that there has been a fall in net assets which is not consistent with the losses, which suggests that the shareholders extracted cash from the company as dividends and that this maybe left it too impoverished to survive a major hit to its trading. Privately owned companies are not required to make a profit, nor to keep any profits in the business, so this is to be expected as the directors would be on a small salary topped up with dividends to optimise their tax affairs. Based on the declarations from the administrators, the shortfall on insolvency is £5.9m, with the CAA and ABTOT carrying £4.1m of that. With an asset book value of £2.7m but only £500K of that expected to be realisable, it does look as if they've lost £4.5m in a year and a half.

From their annual reports for each FY to 31st May:

2020 not published, company insolvent
2019 lost £143458, balance £1.23m
2018 lost £45534, balance £1.15m
2017 lost £99643, balance £1.94m
2016 profit £756670, balance £2.11m
2015 profit £655203, balance £2.15m
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Gerry wrote:
[orange]Super snowHeads[/orange] pay extra money to admin, which meaning they can make things up and pretty much say what they like about anyone while posting on here.


Or in your case, without paying anything in the recent past, which maybe suggests that moderation on this forum is somewhat light touch, much to my previous and sometimes ongoing frustration.

And in any case, Mother hucker was clearly referring to the income of the company as a whole, not to what they'd taken for the 2020-2021 season, which I'd expected to be minimal given the circumstances. Anyone who had booked in the hope of having something work out will have paid no more than a deposit, and that's refundable, while the company couldn't even take the deposits unless they had the properties and the flights contracted for the season, so that's one reason for the large hole in the finances.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@admin, BTW, I'm not saying you should necessarily change the way you run things, just pointing out the air is often thick with hypocrisy around here. Anyway, I'd quite like to see you sued personally for something one of your idiot followers posted.
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@lower, You being a business man would know over heads would have been a minimum in November then with bookings down. Other holiday companies were more conservative in their offering for this season to limit their losses if things didn't go as planned.

One could say it appears others are picking up the tab for bad management of a company.
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You know it makes sense.
ousekjarr wrote:
Privately owned companies are not required to make a profit


PLCs neither but they are required to be solvent when trading.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
The original directors of APS Select Ltd trading as VIP Ski were Hugh Ellis and Andrew Sturt. Hugh Ellis was apparently a chartered accountant and board director of several major corporates including Inchcape and Toyota GB, who died in 2015 or 2016. With the combination of losing the accountant who was maybe the financial brains of the outfit, and the impact of the Brexit referendum on consumer confidence which they noted in their 2016 filing, it seems that their finances slipped or were managed differently from then on.

Their successful application for a CBIL of £500k would suggest that they had some confidence that they could make it through the 20/21 season as long as travel was possible, but I suspect that when they got into November and customers refused to pay the balance on their holiday or requested a refund because VIP Ski were clearly unable to deliver the holiday, the writing on the wall became clear. At that point the options available to the shareholders (the Sturts) were to dig deep into their pockets to keep the company afloat (which they might not have been able to do, especially if much of their capital is tied up in properties), or to let it fold and then try to start again. The slight handicap of the £4m deficit and the albatross of long-term lease contracts on properties which they couldn't cancel and on which at present they have no hope of earning an income would of course have been one factor in the decision. The Sturts will also have lost out on a considerable amount of rental income, and on consultancy fees for development of properties to expand the portfolio, but it's hard to feel sorry for them.

My personal opinion having dug through all of this is that this was a successful business which was maybe kept around the break-even point to minimise corporate taxes, and which provided a nice income for the Sturts both directly and via their other companies and their property empire, while employing a reasonably large number of people. Now that it has failed and been resurrected, it will do so again, but in its wake there are some smaller suppliers and property owners who will suffer, plus the CAA and ABTOT who will pass on their costs in higher levies to what remains of the travel industry. Those are the people deserving of sympathy in this, and in that I include people who will have lost their jobs at VIP Ski as a result of the restructuring and re-acquisition, as it is clear from the administrator's summary that not all of the jobs were intended to be saved.
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Mother hucker wrote:
@lower, You being a business man would know over heads would have been a minimum in November then with bookings down. Other holiday companies were more conservative in their offering for this season to limit their losses if things didn't go as planned.

One could say it appears others are picking up the tab for bad management of a company.


Or perhaps the company simply didn't have the depth of pockets to survive what is surely a once in a century perfect storm of Brexit and Covid, and it was managed well or at least adequately right up to the last. We can't know where on that spectrum it sits, and one of the jobs of the administrators is to confirm that the company wasn't driven into the wall for personal gain, or emptied of wealth before the collapse, and based on their recommendations and summary, it seems that there is no evidence of anything of the sort. As a basic minimum, Barclays had enough faith in their CBIL application to approve the loan.
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@ousekjarr,
I'm not having an opinion one way or the other.
Just putting another point across. If I was a creditor though, the few pence in the pound is a kick in the balls when the dude sets up again all smiles and full of hope.
The few pence in the pound has happened to me on a few occasions, its not nice.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
davidof wrote:
ousekjarr wrote:
Privately owned companies are not required to make a profit


PLCs neither but they are required to be solvent when trading.


I'm pretty sure that is incorrect. A business must be run with a view to make a profit. Of course it might run at a loss but that can't be your objective.
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@russ_e, No, they just have to remain solvent. Which sort of implies at least a small profit. Shareholders may expect a bit more though Very Happy
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ousekjarr wrote:
The original directors of APS Select Ltd trading as VIP Ski were Hugh Ellis and Andrew Sturt. Hugh Ellis was apparently a chartered accountant and board director of several major corporates including Inchcape and Toyota GB, who died in 2015 or 2016. With the combination of losing the accountant who was maybe the financial brains of the outfit, and the impact of the Brexit referendum on consumer confidence which they noted in their 2016 filing, it seems that their finances slipped or were managed differently from then on.

Their successful application for a CBIL of £500k would suggest that they had some confidence that they could make it through the 20/21 season as long as travel was possible, but I suspect that when they got into November and customers refused to pay the balance on their holiday or requested a refund because VIP Ski were clearly unable to deliver the holiday, the writing on the wall became clear. At that point the options available to the shareholders (the Sturts) were to dig deep into their pockets to keep the company afloat (which they might not have been able to do, especially if much of their capital is tied up in properties), or to let it fold and then try to start again. The slight handicap of the £4m deficit and the albatross of long-term lease contracts on properties which they couldn't cancel and on which at present they have no hope of earning an income would of course have been one factor in the decision. The Sturts will also have lost out on a considerable amount of rental income, and on consultancy fees for development of properties to expand the portfolio, but it's hard to feel sorry for them.

My personal opinion having dug through all of this is that this was a successful business which was maybe kept around the break-even point to minimise corporate taxes, and which provided a nice income for the Sturts both directly and via their other companies and their property empire, while employing a reasonably large number of people. Now that it has failed and been resurrected, it will do so again, but in its wake there are some smaller suppliers and property owners who will suffer, plus the CAA and ABTOT who will pass on their costs in higher levies to what remains of the travel industry. Those are the people deserving of sympathy in this, and in that I include people who will have lost their jobs at VIP Ski as a result of the restructuring and re-acquisition, as it is clear from the administrator's summary that not all of the jobs were intended to be saved.


I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses and other than dishonest black economy folk, I’ve not come across a business yet that only wanted to break even to avoid corporate tax charged at just 19%.

Surely the Sturt’s wanted to maximise profits and retain 81% of that, a win for them.

For those who intimate that they massaging the books in looking NOT to make a profit, e.g. with inflated rents paid to themselves, that doesn’t add up. Because the recipients of the inflated rent would also be taxed at 19% if through another company, or 40% or 45% if the properties were owned personally.

Perhaps this was simply a business operating in a very competitive market, where profits have to be made in 4 months, hit by the devastating pandemic. The industry is riddled with business failures in any era, it goes with the territory, even the might of the german Tui was as good as bust, until bailed out.
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Solvency is a separate issue I believe. You are legally required to 'Promote the Success of the Business' so running a loss on purpose is out. I think a few tax avoidance schemes have tried it in the past.
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@MorningGory, @russ_e, I believe some of the laws around directors responsibilities for trading whilst insolvent were changed / relaxed when the covid crisis first hit ? Not sure if this is still the case, or applies here.
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@Snow&skifan, one of the things that I’ve been struggling to get my head around in terms of their corporate structure and where payments were going is the existence of a Swiss company. They don’t have any accommodation in Switzerland, so that part still puzzles me - and of course finding details of ownership or income of a Swiss company is somewhat... difficult
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MorningGory wrote:
@russ_e, No, they just have to remain solvent. Which sort of implies at least a small profit. Shareholders may expect a bit more though Very Happy

Solvency just means you have sufficient cash to pay your debts. Loads of businesses run at a loss.
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lower wrote:
MorningGory wrote:
@russ_e, No, they just have to remain solvent. Which sort of implies at least a small profit. Shareholders may expect a bit more though Very Happy

Solvency just means you have sufficient assets to cover your debts. Loads of businesses run at a loss.

FIFY.
After all, the most common reason for a business going into administration is having insufficient cash to cover immediate debts.
People all too often confuse that with insolvency.
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admin wrote:
lower wrote:
MorningGory wrote:
@russ_e, No, they just have to remain solvent. Which sort of implies at least a small profit. Shareholders may expect a bit more though Very Happy

Solvency just means you have sufficient assets to cover your debts. Loads of businesses run at a loss.

FIFY.
After all, the most common reason for a business going into administration is having insufficient cash to cover immediate debts.
People all too often confuse that with insolvency.


Didn’t I say cash in my original post? Confused as to how it’s changed when you quoted it.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
russ_e wrote:
davidof wrote:
ousekjarr wrote:
Privately owned companies are not required to make a profit


PLCs neither but they are required to be solvent when trading.


I'm pretty sure that is incorrect. A business must be run with a view to make a profit. Of course it might run at a loss but that can't be your objective.


with a view, but it is not a requirement. A public company could make millions of losses each year due to trading circumstances.
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On the Swiss company - https://www.moneyhouse.ch/en/company/vipchaletservices-sa-6671328771

Board of Directors: Andrew Sturt
Sector: Services regarding management consulting

Fees from all of the companies paid to a Swiss company owned exclusively by their common director? Seems the gnomes have a lot of work on...
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@ousekjarr, what are the benefits of business income being paid into a Swiss registered company, do you know?
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
@PeakyB, why set up a company in Switzerland at all when it seems unconnected to the rest of the corporate structure, and yet is clearly part of the same "stable" of companies? Probably not at all related to this:

https://sigtax.com/en/top-10-reasons-incorporate-switzerland
Quote:
Companies are subject to tax rates that range between 12% and 25%, but dividends and capital gains from shareholdings are entitled to participation relief, which means that taxes are practically eliminated on such gains.
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@ousekjarr, thanks, I imagined tax breaks might be one benefit.
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ster wrote:
I would hope that payments made just followed when they were due, so if rents were due per contract they got paid. The administrator should be looking for preferences given but how hard they will look given it was likely a friendly appointment?


If HMRC are a creditor they WILL go after Directors who prefer themselves to their creditors - I know someone who thought the prepack was the answer to all his problems, yet it is turning out to just be a continuation of them. Whoever the insolvency practitioners are, they will still have to produce an accurate account.

The stunt tour operators pull involves multiple companies running all aspects of the business in more than one country. A simple example - Director takes a flight/hotel/car hire etc for a business trip - the cost of the trip goes in as an expense to the UK firm AND the same receipts are used to make another expense claim for the French company - Director is reimbursed twice for one expenditure. There is a myriad of things they can do to divert cash to Directors that only a forensic accountant could discover. I'm not saying VIP did that kind of thing but the multi-faceted and cross border nature of the business does offer up endless possibilities.
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lower wrote:
admin wrote:
lower wrote:
MorningGory wrote:
@russ_e, No, they just have to remain solvent. Which sort of implies at least a small profit. Shareholders may expect a bit more though Very Happy

Solvency just means you have sufficient assets to cover your debts. Loads of businesses run at a loss.

FIFY.
After all, the most common reason for a business going into administration is having insufficient cash to cover immediate debts.
People all too often confuse that with insolvency.


Didn’t I say cash in my original post? Confused as to how it’s changed when you quoted it.
Yes you did, hence I 'FIFY'.
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admin wrote:
lower wrote:
MorningGory wrote:
@russ_e, No, they just have to remain solvent. Which sort of implies at least a small profit. Shareholders may expect a bit more though Very Happy

Solvency just means you have sufficient assets to cover your debts. Loads of businesses run at a loss.

FIFY.
After all, the most common reason for a business going into administration is having insufficient cash to cover immediate debts.
People all too often confuse that with insolvency.


Well actually if you believe the UK Insolvency Act you can be insolvent by having insufficient cash to pay debts as they become due within 3 weeks of a properly constituted demand) OR if your assets are proven to be insufficient to meet your liabilities with insufficient prospect of recovering.
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Excellent @Dave of the Marmottes, that means @lower and I are both right - a true win-win Little Angel


Wink
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ousekjarr wrote:
@PeakyB, why set up a company in Switzerland at all when it seems unconnected to the rest of the corporate structure, and yet is clearly part of the same "stable" of companies? Probably not at all related to this:

https://sigtax.com/en/top-10-reasons-incorporate-switzerland
Quote:
Companies are subject to tax rates that range between 12% and 25%, but dividends and capital gains from shareholdings are entitled to participation relief, which means that taxes are practically eliminated on such gains.


Regarding dividends:

Doesn't that depend whether the Sturt's are Swiss resident for tax?

I act for a UK resident for tax, who suffers hefty Swiss witholding tax on Swiss company dividends. Which depending on his marginal UK income tax rate, can be topped up further with UK taxes.


Digressing .... Snowheads have morphed into a tax and forensic investigations forum Laughing. A lot of bored skiers, desparate to head back to the mountains.
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@Snow&skifan,
Quote:

Digressing .... Snowheads have morphed into a tax and forensic investigations forum .


Only about a ski TO though, which is on topic.
Whatever you do, don’t mention Philip and Cristina Green.
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Given the questions being asked about VIP Ski, I can't wait for Alpine Elements' Administrator to file the Statement of Affairs and the Administrator's Proposal,

Maybe I should get a subscription to the French Companies House website before getting in a supply of popcorn?
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PeakyB wrote:
@Snow&skifan,
Quote:

Digressing .... Snowheads have morphed into a tax and forensic investigations forum .


Only about a ski TO though, which is on topic.
Whatever you do, don’t mention Philip and Cristina Green.


I was only joking.

Don't. That'll cause another rumpus, along with Brexit, ham sandwiches on entering the EU, or posts from the two who spent December hoping that all ski holidays for others were curtailed.
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@Snow&skifan, I'm not an accountant (thank God... Toofy Grin ), but I have to ask why someone would go to the hassle of setting up a Swiss company (which incidentally was the largest creditor when APS Select Ltd went under, being owed £190K) if there was no benefit to doing so. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are that it just may be a duck... and we don't actually know where the Sturts are resident for tax purposes. Maybe they have a summer home in the Cayman Islands, or Monaco?

https://pestalozzilaw.com/en/news/legal-insights/can-swiss-companies-continue-pay-tax-free-dividends/
Quote:
What is a tax-free dividend?
If a Swiss company distributes a dividend, that dividend, generally speaking, is subject to dividend withholding tax of 35%. Shareholders residing outside of Switzerland can only receive relief from Swiss dividend withholding tax insofar as this is provided for in a double tax treaty. Depending on the specific double tax treaty applicable, the percentage holding in the Swiss company and the legal nature of the shareholder, there may possibly remain a residual Swiss dividend withholding tax burden of between 5% and 15%. Moreover, if, for example, Swiss shares are held by investment funds, practically speaking, it may be somewhat complicated to claim double tax treaty relief.

If, however, the Swiss company has capital contribution reserves and the dividend is distributed from these capital contribution reserves, then the dividend, under the current law, will be completely free of Swiss dividend withholding tax. These dividend distributions are also income tax free for individuals in Switzerland.

In recent years, on a number of occasions, Swiss companies have distributed such tax-free dividends. In addition, holding structures of shareholders residing outside of Switzerland sometimes rely exclusively on the chance that the Swiss company will distribute tax-free dividends from capital contribution reserves.


@Nemisis, maybe you should - feel free to let us know what you find. As I said at the beginning, I'm an interested observer rather than an ex-customer, but on a skiing forum I think there is some benefit in shining a light on failed ski holiday companies especially when they are resurrected, as a business which fails once always has the potential to fail again and its future customers should have some information to help them in understanding the risks to their holiday and/or their money. Again, there's no hint of wrongdoing in what the Sturts have done beyond maybe claiming that VIP Ski built and own the chalets when the legal owners are a different company with the same directors, but I suspect none of their customers were aware of any of this, and even now I suspect many won't care.
ski holidays



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