11 May 2012
Unpaid translators angry as owner of firm which went bust sets up new linguistic firm
Angry translators have hit out after being left out of pocket when a Birmingham business went bust - only to see the firm's director set up another translation firm.
They are furious that ALS (UK) director Hayder Al-Ani bought the company’s assets from the liquidators, setting up a new translation firm Convocco.
Translation and interpreting company ALS (UK), based in Edgbaston, issued a meeting of creditors notice in March after the Refugee Migrant Justice and the Immigration Advisory Service charities closed down after Government funding cuts, owing ALS £80,000.
According to ALS this was almost a quarter of its £350,000 annual turnover – leaving it unable to repay £98,000 of debts to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs and a £20,000 personal loan to Barclays Bank owed by director Hayder Al-Ani.
After discussion with advisor Jason Langford-Brown of Lucid, ALS entered into a creditors’ voluntary liquidation and appointed joint liquidators Craig Povey and Kevin Murphy of Chantrey Vellacott DFK.
Mr Al-Ani, from Walmley, bought the assets of ALS from the liquidators, and set up Convocco, which had been incorporated in February.
Polish translator Marcin Piechota, said: “The first project I did for ALS was back in August 2011 – it was a proof-reading task for just €10.
“I never received this money but I was happy to work on translation jobs in August, September, October and December. I never got paid, but instead I received a number of promises and excuses.
“I finally received a message saying ‘I am emailing you to inform you that ALS (UK) has gone into administration and all interpreting/translation debts are being dealt with by the administrators, please contact them with any queries as Convocco are not legally liable for your fees’.
“I was astonished to find out that the ‘new’ company owns the same website, the same phone helpline and that the same people are working there.
"Having received a letter from their administrators and seeing all the debts they had, I do not hold out much hope to receive my money.
“But I have learnt my lesson.”
Mr Al-Ani has also been a director of Al-Ta’i Linguistic Support, the previous incarnation of ALS, which is in liquidation, and Alfayahaa Multimedia Production, which is dissolved.
On an internet forum at least six translators have complained about non-payment for hundreds of pounds of work done.
Following a Freedom of Information request by Czech translator Jakub Skrebsky, Birmingham City Council revealed there had been a “one-off contract” and “invoices were paid” for work done by Convocco in March this year and to ALS from November 2007 to February 2012 and Al-T’Ai Linguistic Support from October 2007 to February 2008.
A spokesman for the council said: “It is the job of a court to determine whether the owners of a company are unfit to run it, and can disqualify them from being a director.
“The city council enters into a number of small one-off purchases and contracts throughout its directorates, and when hard evidence is gained that contractual practices are not being adhered to it will thoroughly investigate.’’
Mr Al-Ani said: “We were forced to go into liquidation because we were owed money by two really big organisations. We could not pay all our debts and some translators were left unpaid. It is still a viable business. We have done nothing wrong. It is just the nature of business in this climate.”
Mr Povey said: “Hayder’s decision to acquire the assets of ALS from the liquidators represented the very best return for creditors whose interests we were appointed to represent.’’