Stansted firm owned by Nigerian prince in redundancy battle with staff
PUBLISHED: 11:39 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:56 21 September 2020
A private jet maintenance firm owned by a billionaire Nigerian prince is refusing to pay former staff hundreds of thousands of pounds in court-ordered redundancy payouts, it is alleged.
Stansted’s Executive & Business Aviation Support (EBAS) put itself into voluntary liquidation and made staff redundant last year, after the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rescinded its aircraft maintenance licence.
The firm’s parent company EBAS Diamond Holdings is owned by oil magnate Prince Arthur Eze – reputed to be one of the richest men in Africa.
But former employees say they are still owed wages and holiday pay as well as their redundancy package nearly a year after they were laid off, despite courts ordering the company to pay out.
An EBAS spokesman denied the allegations but refused to comment further and asked that further requests for comment were made to the liquidator.
A spokesman for David Rubin & Partners confirmed that Paul Appleton, a partner at the firm, had been appointed as liquidator but said he was not yet in a position to comment on allegations regarding how the company’s staff had been treated.
The spokesman said the liquidator has a legal obligation to realise assets for stakeholders – which include former employees. He said Mr Appleton is already in a “productive dialogue” with staff in order to address their concerns.
The employees were laid off in November 2019 after the CAA took away EBAS’ Part 145 approval. Staff say they were assured at the time they would be paid as normal.
Employees were then not paid in December, but were told they had done nothing wrong and wages would be processed when the business had funds.
In February the former employees were sent P45s, but still received no payout from the company.
After launching union claims in April some employees were allegedly offered £5,000 if they dropped their case.
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One said: “It was either a phone call for some people, or face-to-face with other. There was nothing in writing.
“It was all based on ‘If you stop your claim now with the union we’ll pay you this money’.
“That £5,000 barely covers your pension payments that weren’t paid. Your months salary that wasn’t paid.
“You might end up with £1,000 or £1,500 on top instead of your redundancy package.”
The former employee said none of the droves of claimants had taken the deal.
Over the summer several employment tribunals came down in favour of the employees with the company told to pay damages, while other groups of employees still await the verdict of their own legal action.
A lawyer for one cohort of employees confirmed that the payout owed to his clients was a six-figure sum.
However it seems that the court-ordered monies have still not been transferred.
According to court documents, in June EBAS was ordered to pay £33,632.63 to Michael Rooke.
This includes £16,500 for being dismissed in breach of contract, £4,725 in redundancy pay and £7,735.70 after an unauthorised deduction was taken from Mr Rooke’s wages.
That month the tribunal also ordered EBAS to pay £3,592.92 to Mr J Benedict after the company made an unauthorised deduction from his wages and failed to reimburse him the cost of a training course they had agreed to pay for.
At the end of August an employment tribunal found in favour of four more ex-employees.
Some ex-employees allege that they have not received the money – with statements seen by this newspaper of one claimant showing no transfer has been made.
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