'Improbable' Bassini must pay back more than £4.4 million

'Improbable' Bassini must pay back more than £4.4 million

'Improbable' Bassini must pay back more than £4.4 million

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Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Laurence Bassini's “casual, expansive and grandiose” manner at the witness stand contributed to a High Court judge ruling against him in the legal battle with the Russo brothers.

Mr Justice Spencer ruled this week the former Watford FC owner had to pay back more than £3.6 million Jimmy and Vince Russo paid him just before and during his tenure at the club.

The judgment left Mr Bassini, who was not in court for the ruling on Tuesday, with a total bill in excess of £4,469,000 to repay, as he was also ordered to pay interest on the initial sums and the Russos costs. The decision came after a four-day trial earlier this month.

During the case, Mr Justice Spencer was told the Russos had paid Mr Bassini £3.5 million just before he took over Watford FC in March 2011.

Then, in May 2011, they paid him a further £135,000. The Russos’ case was the money was straightforward loans paid to Mr Bassini personally to help him run the club. The initial sum, they said, was intended as “working capital” and the smaller amount was requested by Mr Bassini to help with cashflow issues.

The Russos said the loans were initially interest free but then, in April 2012, Mr Bassini agreed to pay 5 per cent interest on the sums to appease the brothers as he had not started repaying them.

Mr Bassini denied the sums were loans and said they were the price of a “sham” deal to give the Russos a secret 50 per cent share of the club.

He said the £3.5 million was the cost of purchasing half the shares in the club’s holding company, which he held on trust for the brothers to keep their involvement hidden.

Mr Bassini also said the £135,000, which was the sum the Russos received for their shares in Watford FC in his buyout, was paid to square the ownership deal.

He denied there had been any discussion with Russos, who are former Watford FC directors, over interest.

In his ruling , Judge Spencer said he was convinced the £3.5million was a loan because of the loan agreement drawn up between the two sides. The judge said this meant the £135,000 was also a loan and he said he believed the discussion over interest had happened in 2012 and thus applied.

He also said large chunks of Mr Bassini’s evidence relied on his then solicitor, Angelo Barrea, who had not given evidence in court.

Mr Justice Spencer said: “It is necessary to recite one final important aspect of the oral evidence, namely matters affecting the credibility of Mr Bassini.”

He started by describing the Stanmore businessman’s behaviour when his assets were frozen.

The judge said: “To say the least, it reflects very badly on Mr Bassini that sums totalling £700,000 were transferred out of his accounts on the very day the freezing order was made.”

The judge commented on accusations Mr Bassini made in his evidence, saying: “In the course of his oral evidence in this trial Mr Bassini on several occasions made wild and unsubstantiated allegations against parties and witnesses.”

He added: “Mr Bassini was equally free with allegations of dishonesty against Jimmy Russo and Mr (Robin) Williams generally, although he repeatedly tempered that by saying he liked the Russo brothers very much.”

The allegations included accusations the Russos still secretly owned half of Watford FC and were acting in league with the current club’s owners, the Pozzo family.

Mr Bassini also claimed there were secret recordings of his conversations with the Russos which stood up his version of events, but that Mr Barrea had them and the pair of them had fallen out.

Judge Spencer added: “The manner in which Mr Bassini gave his evidence was casual, expansive and grandiose. I was surprised and unimpressed that, when confronted with some key documents – for example the loan agreement and the heads of terms – Mr Bassini claimed to have never seen them before, or certainly never studied them, even in preparing for the trial or during the hearing itself.”

He concluded: “I found his evidence on many issues improbable and beyond reason.”

Russos' interest in Watford Football Club was genuine, judge says

12 nuggets of information from the Russo Bassini High Court case

 

Comments (7)

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3:05pm Fri 28 Mar 14

ralear49 says...

I am shocked. He seemed so honest. Clearly a miscarriage of justice. Will he get to keep the red hat?
I am shocked. He seemed so honest. Clearly a miscarriage of justice. Will he get to keep the red hat? ralear49
  • Score: 11

3:20pm Fri 28 Mar 14

JonBoy says...

Love the fact you chose that photo.
Love the fact you chose that photo. JonBoy
  • Score: 5

3:21pm Fri 28 Mar 14

HornetJJ says...

Even the judge thinks he's a tool!
Even the judge thinks he's a tool! HornetJJ
  • Score: 19

3:36pm Fri 28 Mar 14

Wembley84 says...

What will probably happen is that LB will declare himself bankrupt, there'll be another name change (I can think of several beginning Bas....), and Jimmy & Vince will be out a few million. I feel sorry for them, I think they probably had WFC's best interests at heart.
What will probably happen is that LB will declare himself bankrupt, there'll be another name change (I can think of several beginning Bas....), and Jimmy & Vince will be out a few million. I feel sorry for them, I think they probably had WFC's best interests at heart. Wembley84
  • Score: -1

4:02pm Fri 28 Mar 14

andyhooked says...

Assets put in LB's wife's name? I do wonder? Transferred monies on the Day of Judgerment but to whom? My 300 quid of shares where to be eitherly to be compulsory bought out for just over 3 quid or I agreed to sell. I did the latter when LB applied the Companies Act . NOW, where does this sit with LNOC's case against us when the now convicted fraudster is done and dusted and LNOC continue to sue WFC for a loan he arranged in WFC's name and that the now convicted felon has had his assets frozen? Could be more intersting than pre-season friendlies me thinks!!
Assets put in LB's wife's name? I do wonder? Transferred monies on the Day of Judgerment but to whom? My 300 quid of shares where to be eitherly to be compulsory bought out for just over 3 quid or I agreed to sell. I did the latter when LB applied the Companies Act . NOW, where does this sit with LNOC's case against us when the now convicted fraudster is done and dusted and LNOC continue to sue WFC for a loan he arranged in WFC's name and that the now convicted felon has had his assets frozen? Could be more intersting than pre-season friendlies me thinks!! andyhooked
  • Score: 0

4:12pm Fri 28 Mar 14

grahamwfc says...

andyhooked wrote:
Assets put in LB's wife's name? I do wonder? Transferred monies on the Day of Judgerment but to whom? My 300 quid of shares where to be eitherly to be compulsory bought out for just over 3 quid or I agreed to sell. I did the latter when LB applied the Companies Act . NOW, where does this sit with LNOC's case against us when the now convicted fraudster is done and dusted and LNOC continue to sue WFC for a loan he arranged in WFC's name and that the now convicted felon has had his assets frozen? Could be more intersting than pre-season friendlies me thinks!!
That would almost certainly be deemed a fraudulent conveyance

A transfer will be fraudulent if made with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any creditor. Thus, if a transfer is made with the specific intent to avoid satisfying a specific liability, then actual intent is present. However, when a debtor prefers to pay one creditor instead of another that is not a fraudulent transfer.
There are two types of fraudulent transfer—actual fraud and constructive fraud. Actual fraud typically involves a debtor who as part of an asset protection scheme donates his assets, usually to an "insider", and leaves himself nothing to pay his creditors. Constructive fraud does not relate to fraudulent intent, but rather to the underlying economics of the transaction, if it took place for less than reasonably equivalent value at a time when the debtor was in a distressed financial condition. It is important to notice that the actual distinction between the two different types of fraud is what the intentions of the debtor were. For example, where the debtor has simply been more generous than they should have or, in business transactions, the business should have ceased trading earlier to preserve capital (see generally, wrongful trading). In a successful suit, the plaintiff is entitled to recover the property transferred or its value from the transferee who has received a gift of the debtor's assets. Subsequent transferees may also be targeted, although they generally have stronger defenses than immediate transferees.

Hopefully he can now be done for Fraud
[quote][p][bold]andyhooked[/bold] wrote: Assets put in LB's wife's name? I do wonder? Transferred monies on the Day of Judgerment but to whom? My 300 quid of shares where to be eitherly to be compulsory bought out for just over 3 quid or I agreed to sell. I did the latter when LB applied the Companies Act . NOW, where does this sit with LNOC's case against us when the now convicted fraudster is done and dusted and LNOC continue to sue WFC for a loan he arranged in WFC's name and that the now convicted felon has had his assets frozen? Could be more intersting than pre-season friendlies me thinks!![/p][/quote]That would almost certainly be deemed a fraudulent conveyance A transfer will be fraudulent if made with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud any creditor. Thus, if a transfer is made with the specific intent to avoid satisfying a specific liability, then actual intent is present. However, when a debtor prefers to pay one creditor instead of another that is not a fraudulent transfer.[1] There are two types of fraudulent transfer—actual fraud and constructive fraud. Actual fraud typically involves a debtor who as part of an asset protection scheme donates his assets, usually to an "insider", and leaves himself nothing to pay his creditors. Constructive fraud does not relate to fraudulent intent, but rather to the underlying economics of the transaction, if it took place for less than reasonably equivalent value at a time when the debtor was in a distressed financial condition. It is important to notice that the actual distinction between the two different types of fraud is what the intentions of the debtor were. For example, where the debtor has simply been more generous than they should have or, in business transactions, the business should have ceased trading earlier to preserve capital (see generally, wrongful trading). In a successful suit, the plaintiff is entitled to recover the property transferred or its value from the transferee who has received a gift of the debtor's assets. Subsequent transferees may also be targeted, although they generally have stronger defenses than immediate transferees.[2] Hopefully he can now be done for Fraud grahamwfc
  • Score: 8

4:29pm Fri 28 Mar 14

andyhooked says...

Blown away grahamwfc with your knowledge of such involved matters. I hope others also appreciate your insight. If fraud, as suggested, has been committed I hope for a criminal case against LB. but can this happen after civil action and would the CPS get involved given a case lost under civil action? Then there are to be casualties like LB's daughter whom I seem to recall did appear on the pitch at one time as a mascot. What may she thinks of her Daddy? As said by me, the LNOC case will be very interesting to follow following this Judge's handing down and decision. Thanks again Graham for your posting.
Blown away grahamwfc with your knowledge of such involved matters. I hope others also appreciate your insight. If fraud, as suggested, has been committed I hope for a criminal case against LB. but can this happen after civil action and would the CPS get involved given a case lost under civil action? Then there are to be casualties like LB's daughter whom I seem to recall did appear on the pitch at one time as a mascot. What may she thinks of her Daddy? As said by me, the LNOC case will be very interesting to follow following this Judge's handing down and decision. Thanks again Graham for your posting. andyhooked
  • Score: 3

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