The Air Travel Trust, which underwrites the Atol scheme, finally secured a payment from the liquidators of Goldtrail Travel, the latest trust accounts reveal.
The trust received a Goldtrail ‘liquidation dividend’ of £1.17 million in the financial year to March 2023, more than a decade after the company went into voluntary liquidation in July 2010.
Goldtrail owner Abdulkadir Aydin folded the company and left the country after transferring £10 million to himself, leaving the Air Travel Trust to pick up the £25 million bill to refund 75,000 customers. The liquidation also triggered the failure of associated business Flight Options, which traded as Kiss Flights, in August 2010, costing the trust an additional £19 million.
In Aydin’s absence, liquidators PwC sought to recover funds from those subsequently found to have “dishonestly assisted” Aydin.
Seven years of litigation followed. The liquidators brought claims in 2014 against Turkish airline Onur Air and a group referred to in court as ‘the BPI defendants’ – former XL Leisure Group boss Phil Wyatt, associates Magnus Stephensen and Halldor Sigurdarson, and Wyatt investment vehicle Black Pearl Investments (BPI).
Wyatt and the others had been involved in a series of failures, including XL Leisure Group in 2008, which cost the Air Travel Trust £28.6 million despite providing a bond in excess of £41 million.
The High Court found for the liquidators and, when the defendants appealed in 2016, the Court of Appeal found they “knew everything about Aydin’s plan”. However, Onur Air sought to overturn the ruling and resisted an attempt to obtain payment before agreeing a settlement in 2018.
Two of the three BPI defendants settled, but payment by the third remained outstanding and a bid by the liquidators to claim against a fourth person was rejected by the High Court in 2020 and the Appeal Court in 2021.
The liquidators did succeed in recovering about £6.7 million – £1.9 million from the BPI defendants and £4.85 million from Onur. But the process cost almost £8.4 million, including £5.2 million in legal fees, and the liquidators reported just £1.9 million in funds against almost £26 million in claims in their final report in January 2022. Just under £1.17 million of this amount was finally paid to the ATT last year.
More: Goldtrail Holidays: Why did it fail, and why now?