Two-Michelin-starred the Greenhouse in Mayfair wound up over unpaid tax bill

24 June 2020 by
Two-Michelin-starred the Greenhouse in Mayfair wound up over unpaid tax bill

The company behind two-Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant the Greenhouse has been wound up over a tax bill of almost half a million pounds.

Marc (Greenhouse) Ltd had tried to raise funds to pay £479,000 owed to HM Revenue & Customs by selling stocks of wine at auctions in Hong Kong the Insolvency and Companies Court in London heard today.

HMRC barrister Jessica Powers told Chief Judge Nicholas Briggs, in a hearing conducted remotely, that the company wanted more time to settle but the tax authority was seeking for it to be compulsorily wound up now.

An auction sale of wine owned by the company last week in Hong Kong had realised £233,000 and the company proposed to pay £100,000 immediately and settle the rest of the debt by the end of the year, she said.

The company, whose listed director is Marlon Abela, also accepted it had other non-tax debts of around £700,000 and was proposing to pay those in instalments by the end of June 2022, Powers added.

She continued: "This is the eighth petition presented against this company. It has already been wound up and then the order rescinded."

This latest winding up petition was lodged in November 2019 and she said that two applications for administration orders had been rejected earlier this year.

Appearing for Marc (Greenhouse), Faith Julian told the judge the £475,000 was a group debt, that the group registration was cancelled in November last year and the other companies in the group had gone into administration.

Julian said the company's proposal had offered "an opportunity for HMRC to be paid in full".

She added: "If not for the pandemic, the auction would have taken place by now so the debt would have been paid in full. So we are seeking time to pay."

Marc (Greenhouse)'s landlord, was represented at court but not named. Its barrister Kavan Gunarantna supported HMRC's bid to wind up the company. He said the landlord was owed money, had terminated the lease and was in the process of possession proceedings.

"It's a very substantial sum, in addition to all other debts of this company," he added.

Marc (Greenhouse)'s lawyer argued that the landlord was not a listed supporting creditor and claimed "the landlord is desperate to wind up this company so it can forfeit a very valuable lease".

Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Briggs granted the compulsory winding up order.

He said the evidence showed the company was insolvent "on a balance sheet basis" and insolvent regarding cash flow because it was unable to pay HMRC its six-figure debt.

He added: "In my judgement, the fact that this petition has been outstanding for such a long time, there's been many hearings, [it] is not sufficient to only part-pay the debt of HMRC now.

"If the company was able to say it would pay the debt in full within 56 days that would be a different matter. To part-pay the debt is insufficient, so I will wind the company up."

Now the company has been wound up its affairs will be handed over to an Official Receiver.

The government website states that a company can apply to the court within five working days of a winding up order being made to apply to rescind it.

Earlier this year Abela's other restaurants, two-Michelin-starred Japanese venue Umu, the Square and private members club Morton's, all in Mayfair, fell into administration.

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