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In 2020, investment company and sponsors of West Ham Football Club, Basset & Gold PLC went into administration following an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority into pensions they had allegedly mis-sold. Over £35 million of their clients’ money had been invested into payday lender Uncle Buck, who had gone bankrupt leaving Basset & Gold’s clients with nothing.
Three years later, customers are still trying to claim compensation from Basset & Gold whose directors, Byline Times can now reveal, have started a new company aimed at selling financial services to the elderly.
AgeGroup is a holding company, within which are housed a number of online clickbait ‘magazines’ aimed at the elderly. Focusing on pensions and health, they operate similarly to other clickbait sites, using generic ‘articles’ to draw people in and generate revenue from advertising. Using freelance writers to create content, they have recently advertised for staff on Indeed, offering rates which reflect the quality of their output.
Based, according to Companies House and their website, at 43 Manchester Street, London, the earliest version of their website lists their founders as ‘serial entrepreneur’ Hadar Swersky and SEO consultant Guy Hadas. The website also describes the company as a community where “Our members interact, build connections, source information, activities and products curated for older adults in an inclusive and non-political environment powered by deep technology.”
Products offered on the current AgeGroup website include AgeFriendly – an online directory which lists businesses catering to older people, AgeMeet – a yet-to-be-built social network where older people can video chat, and AgeGuardian – “a technology based fintech solution for caretakers and their family members”.
All of which seemed to be operating similarly to any other start-up media outlet, until we took a deep dive into their directors and discovered a rabbit-warren of unscrupulous financial dealings between Basset & Gold and Uncle Buck going back almost ten years, which led to two companies collapsing and a number of pensioners losing millions of pounds due to allegedly mis-sold pensions.
In 2014, investment company River Bloom Services Cyprus loaned £3 million to payday lender Uncle Buck to start up their business. Four years later, in August 2018, this loan was increased to £57 million including money from both River Bloom Cyprus and their UK arm – River Bloom Services UK. Based at 46 Manchester Street, London, until its move to 46 Dorset Street in 2020, River Bloom UK was run by Cypriot accountant Michail Michalakis and Hadar Swersky. In order to increase their loan to Uncle Buck, River Bloom UK borrowed money from the investment company Basset & Gold PLC.
Basset & Gold PLC were incorporated in 2005 and have had a number of directors. In 2018, these included SEO consultant Guy Hadas and financial consultant David Malcolm Kaye.
According to Companies House, Kaye is a director of more than 500 companies, 109 of which are currently active. Among these are the Stanley Davis Group, a company formation agent mentioned in the Paradise Papers. SDG Secretaries – an offshoot of the Stanley Davis Group – is also listed as a director of Basset and Gold.
In 2018 the Stanley Davis Group announced its acquisition of A1 Company Services, ‘together with its many brands’. The company was then acquired around 2013 or 2014 by an investment fund called Xephyr Limited, ofwhich Kaye was also a director.
Xephyr Limited was dissolved in 2019 but traded under several brand names, including: Company Formations 247, Quick Formations, Formations Direct Limited and QF Registrars, all of which were based at 2 Woodberry Grove, North Finchley. A 2019 article in the Ham and High, revealed a number of financial irregularities within companies formed by these and other companies based at an address in Finchley Road, London (though there is no suggestion that Kaye was aware of the purposes that any of these companies would be put to).
According to the Financial Conduct Authority investigation into Basset & Gold, their problems arose in March 2020 when River Bloom UK recalled their loan to Uncle Buck, leaving them bankrupt and owing nearly two million pounds. All the money Basset & Gold had invested into the company was swallowed by the bankruptcy, leaving Basset & Gold in liquidation as they were investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority for alleged mis-selling. Why Basset & Gold elected to invest in Uncle Buck to begin with is unknown, as is River Bloom’s reason for the sudden decision to recall their loan.
Four months later, in August 2020, Kaye and Hadas started up Pension Times, a media company publishing an online magazine aimed at the elderly, at One George Yard, an address which also housed Company Formations 247 and Formations Direct Ltd. Exactly a year later, in 2021, Kaye resigned as director and Hadas renamed the company Age Media Group Ltd, changing the address to 43 Manchester Street, London, close to the address which initially housed River Bloom UK.
By October 2021, this name had changed again to Age Group Ltd. In January 2022, Hadas opened another company under the name Age A.G UK Limited with Michail Michalakis, formerly of River Bloom, as his co-director. Six months later Age Group Ltd were officially dissolved and, in December 2022, Hadas opened Age Group AG Limited, now stating the company to be an Israeli enterprise based in a Kibbutz and noting on Companies House that they were seeking Seed Investment via the SEIS scheme, a UK Government initiative which offers significant tax breaks to angel investors.
To-date, it is unknown how much money any of these companies have actually made, as they have yet to file any accounts. Likewise, their FinTech app is still in “stealth mode” so not currently available to the public.
Byline Times reached out to Hadas, Kaye, Swersky and Michalakis for comment regarding the nature of their business with AgeGroup.
To date, only Kaye has replied. “Let me deal with the one matter that I can respond to easily which relates to the Directorship of Stanley Davis Group Limited. As a company formation agent, a very considerable number of companies would have been formed over a great number of years. Once a company is sold the responsibility for a company ceases and there would no longer be any responsibility for the activities of that company.”