June 22, 2024

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Britishvolt owner blames business woes on tax officials, media and ‘sabotage’ by staff

2 min read

The owner of Britishvolt has blamed a tax raid, critical media coverage and “intentional sabotage” by employees for the near collapse of his global businesses, as he faces down legal action from staff demanding months of back pay. 

David Collard’s Recharge Industries was selected by accountants EY to buy the defunct UK battery start-up earlier this year, though it has yet to pay the full sum for the company or buy the land for a potential factory in Blyth, Northumberland. 

The Britishvolt deal propelled the Australian entrepreneur — who had no battery manufacturing experience — into a leading position in the UK’s ambitions to foster a homegrown battery industry. 

But in the months since, the enterprise has unravelled.

More than a dozen current or former employees of Recharge, its owner Scale Facilitation and business associates of Collard from the UK, New York and Australia have told the Financial Times that repeated promises of investment never materialised.

Collard has also been named in lawsuits in New York from staff demanding back pay, as well as an eviction notice from a luxury apartment, and an American Express bill for $746,000. 

This week, one former Britishvolt employee filed a “statutory demand” against Recharge for back pay that could lead to the business being wound up within weeks if it does not clear the debt.

Collard told the FT that the negative views of former staff “represent a fraction of the overall employee sentiment”. 

He stressed that financing for Britishvolt had been “meticulously planned”, but had run into difficulty after Australian tax authorities raided another of his businesses, SaniteX, in June.

He said that “media coverage” of the raid “linked it to the Britishvolt transaction”, which had “not only derailed our financial planning but also left us in a precarious position for raising capital and debt”.

Nevertheless, he added: “We are securing a strategic financing pathway to navigate the aftermath…

2023-11-17 00:00:07

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