Two executives of the FTSE 250 air-to-air refuelling specialist Cobham are being sued for £2.3m over the closure of one of its subsidiaries, writes Oliver Shah.
Christopher Jewel, who has since moved to another company, TT electronics, and Stephen Beeching, who is still at Cobham, are being pursued by a litigation fund that bought the right to sue them from the liquidator of the subsidiary after it collapsed.
News of the High Court battle comes after a period of intense turbulence for Cobham, which is not a party to the action. The aerospace and defence group moved to oust its finance director, chief executive and chairman this year and made a trio of profit warnings. Cobham did not comment on the legal action.
MMI research was a subsidiary of Cobham that produced devices used by police and security services to detect mobile phone numbers and monitor the movements of suspected wrongdoers. Manolete Partners, which is bringing the claim, alleges that Jewell and Beeching breached their duties as directors to MMI and its creditors by moving MMI’s assets and £2.3m of cash, to another part of Cobham in March 2012, before MMI went into administration.
According to Manolete, the “unlawful” movement of the cash left MMI “as an empty shell and so unable to pay its debts”. These included money owed to a rival surveillance tech company, CellXion, over a patent dispute and more than £1m owed to HM Revenue & Customs, Manolete claims. Jewell, 52 and Beeching, 47, could not be reached for comment. However they are understood to have hired lawyers to defend themselves against the allegations.
*Photograph depicts an RAF Voyager tanker refuels Tornados with equipment made by Cobham