The scale of the money lost by InvestNI when companies they have aided go to the wall is shocking, but small compared to the amount actually clawed back by the organisation, BtP can reveal today.
Less than 4% of all the money granted to companies who have then gone out of business for one reason or another has been regained by the organisation, which means the public has suffered a catastrophic loss.
Over one and a half million pounds was granted to companies since 2011 that has now closed. As part of the letters of offer for aid, companies are required to pay back grants.
InvestNI told us:
Clawback is triggered when a company defaults on the conditions in the letter of offer for financial assistance. In a significant number of cases the act of default is company closure. The ability to clawback financial assistance paid to a company is normally limited to the five year period prior to default, and given that in many cases the company has gone into liquidation the ability to recover funds is limited.
Since 2011, 29 companies have been the subject of clawbacks, with aid totalling £1.65m. The biggest debt owed is from the Limavady Gear Company, which went into administration in October 2010 – it owes almost £330,000.
Also included on the list is Mivan, the construction firm which closed in January 2014 with the loss of almost 300 jobs. It owes InvestNI – and thus the public, a whopping £222k. Documents from Companies house dated March 2014 show that at the time it still owed InvestNI over £73k.
Some of these businesses were hailed at the time, and attracted vast sums of public money in aid, such as Mediasmiths International which was offered £75k when it came to Belfast in 2011 and was welcomed by then Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster. (Source)
Despite the enormous outstanding debts, a meagre 3.7% of the total bill has been settled by the the companies or their administrators. In fact, just two companies have paid back the aid they were granted, totalling just £55,456.
We have been told that 8 of the companies debts have been ‘written off’ and 19 are still outstanding. At present, no court costs have been paid by InvestNI to regain the money granted to these companies.
Here is the full list from InvestNI and how much the respective former businesses owe:
You will notice we have blanked out a company name in the 2013-14 year, this is due to an ongoing legal case, and we’d rather not get sued.