Adam Afriyie: Rising Tory Star’s Business Past Comes Under Close Exam | Adam afriyie


WWhen Adam Afriyie sold his political data firm, DeHavilland, for £ 18million, just months after being elected to the House of Commons in 2005, it seemed the young MP had secured a solid financial platform to support his voluptuous political ambition.

His 72% stake in the company earned him £ 13million and one of the first black Conservative MPs – sometimes referred to as ‘Tory Barack Obama’ – was at one time reputed to be worth £ 100million.

Yet this week, HMRC submitted a petition to the High Court to be declared bankrupt over an unpaid bill of at least £ 1.7million in taxes from its crumbling business empire. Documents filed by Companies House suggest that Afriyie’s businesses have collapsed due to a total of £ 2.3million.

Afriyie’s position as an MP, in the secure Windsor constituency he has represented since his early days in politics, does not appear to be in imminent threat.

But parliamentary rules mean he should step down if a bankruptcy restraining order is made against him. These can be imposed if the bankrupt refuses to cooperate with the process or is suspected of hiding assets, for example.

The tax lawsuit, which Afriyie apparently intends to defend in person in the High Court, mainly concerns the liquidation of the computer company Connect Support Services, which was established before DeHavilland, the company whose sale proved so lucrative. in 2005.

Connect Support Services went bankrupt in 2017 and was sold by the admins to another IT company Cloud Direct. The Guardian understands that Afriyie expects the proceeds of the sale, between £ 1.5 million and £ 2million, to wipe out most of its debts to HMRC.

That sale took place in 2017. A liquidator report filed at Companies House more than three years later, in November 2020, shows the company owed HMRC £ 1.8million at that time.

Another Afriyie company is also in the crosshairs of the tax authorities. When Afriyie sold DeHavilland in 2005, he created and kept the company’s rapidly growing news agency, now called Axonn Media, but known at the time as Adfero.

Afriyie with Michael Gove, Ben Wallace and Justine Greening at the Conservative Party Conference in 2005. Photograph: Characteristics of Rex

The business was like a greenhouse. In 2013, as Afriyie came under close scrutiny over rumors that he was planning to challenge David Cameron as head of the Conservative Party, a former employee lifted the veil on what he was doing. claimed to be a punitive culture at Adfero.

The former employee, now a Guardian staff, said he was asked to produce up to 30 ‘stories’ a day for publication, in an office above a branch of Subway, lavishing words on topics as diverse as double glazing, human resources, verandas, Dubai vacations and garden tools.

“The job was all about scouring the internet for stories to rewrite in such a way that they were relevant to a client and, more importantly, could include keywords that would boost search engine optimization.” , did he declare.

Around the same time, Adfero – which takes its name from the Latin “I bring news” – changes its name and becomes Axonn.

Despite its new name, Axonn failed to adapt to the changing world of internet marketing and, starting around 2014, began to bleed customers and cut staff.

The company went into liquidation in 2019 and was sold in July 2019 to T&D Media Group for £ 39,000 and 6% of sales in the first year. At time liquidator’s next progress report, that 6% was only worth £ 19,758.76. This indicates an annual turnover of less than £ 330,000 at Axonn, compared to almost £ 7.6m in 2013.

That same report from the liquidator, filed in September this year, shows that £ 492,000 was owed to HMRC.

On Monday, an Afriyie spokesperson said: “The [bankruptcy] The petition arises for complex reasons related to Adam’s past business interests. Negotiations have been underway for several years and the petition is facing a legal challenge as his advisers work to reach a deal.

The spokesperson declined to comment on Tuesday.

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