Transcript of interview with Dr Sami Ahmed
held on 11 April 2001
(As corrected by Dr Sami Ahmed and Elizabeth Filkin)
MS FILKIN: Thank you, Dr Ahmed, for coming to see
me this morning, it is very good of you. What I would like to
do if I may, so I have got the right things for the record, is
to check with you that your title at Transfer Technology in 1990-91
was Managing Director. Is that correct?
DR AHMED: I was Managing Director of one of the divisions,
and main Board Director of the Group.
MS FILKIN: Which division were you in?
DR AHMED: It was Control Manufacturing Technology
Division. This is after becoming a plc. Before that, during the
period before that, which is 1990, I was Managing Director, yes.
MS FILKIN: Thank you. Were you a shareholder in 1990?
DR AHMED: No.
MS FILKIN: Just for the record, if I may, perhaps
you would give me your current title and your present role?
DR AHMED: I am right now Managing Director of a company
called Smart Technology Limited. It is an engineering company.
MS FILKIN: What I am doing - and I ought to start
off by explaining what my role is - I am making an inquiry on
behalf of Parliament into what Mr Robinson said to Parliament
through the Standards and Privileges Select Committee in 1998.
The complaint that I am dealing with is that he misled the Committee
in 1998. That is what I have to look into. What happened in his
companies, your companies, your work, etc. is not my affair. I have
got to understand some things that happened in Mr Robinson's
companies so I can understand whether or not he did mislead the
Committee. Of course, I am only looking at whether Mr Robinson
told the truth at the time. He may of course have more information
now that might change what he had to say; so I have to focus very
much on: did he tell them the truth in 1998 as he knew it? Of
course, as part of that, I have to look at whether that was the
whole of the story? If I could start off by asking you to tell
me about the plans for selling Transfer Technology that were being
drawn up in 1990. What were those plans; and to whom was it intended
to sell the company?
DR AHMED: I know I must answer specific questions
but I think it sometimes helps if I give you the background because
I think it is very important. Transfer Technology Limited, the
company which was in 1990, was a small company. We started in
1981. Mr Robinson was the Chairman; I was the second person there,
Technical Director, then Managing Director and so on. The company
was run in a different way than any traditional company, because
we were really doing very high tech sort of equipment; ahead of
our time we were dealing with things there. We recruited the best
people we could come across. We thought it was good, for example,
to get students from local schools in the first year and carry
on with them until they finished their education and so on. Therefore,
if you like, the atmosphere there was a bit different. Mr Robinson,
of course, was a Member of Parliament at that time so he would
be coming and going very regularly and he could not be there full-time.
Also he lives in Guildford which is far away from Birmingham.
Therefore, I was really running the whole thing there. I think
it is important also to understand that we were working from one
office. We did not have lots of offices. Geoffrey would be sharing
the same office with me. We instated a rule there, a no private
letter campaign. Any letter comes there will be opened centrally
and given to Geoffrey or myself before it was distributed to anybody.
Many people did not like this but it was a rule there. This gives
you a little idea that the company was open, especially within
the top group. There was no hierarchy. Apart from Geoffrey and
myself, everybody else was working in a flat structure. I was
working with Geoffrey for a long time. I knew from the beginning
that Geoffrey's interest was not really to be in a company with
ten people selling for a million pounds. He wanted to be with
2,000 people selling for £200 million. Therefore, from day
one he was looking for ways of going public because he did not
want really to be in a small company in (inaudible) - he wanted
to be in a bigger company and so on. Of course, he could not do
this overnight, so we kept working our own way. In 1989 we acquired
another company which was Sarclad. In 1990 we were expecting to
be doing £10 million turnover and about a million pound
profit. I think we were told this was about right for going for
a little bit bigger steps. When Geoffrey realised this would be
the case, it was not really my choice; I would rather work in
a small company which I know well and I have hands-on knowledge
with everything going on there and I know everybody; but of course
Geoffrey wanted to be a much bigger company and I think it is
interesting and exciting, and a different sort of experience for
all of us. When we got the opportunity - he tried different things
before but it did not work, like floating outright. At one stage
they said, "If you do £10 million and £1 million
profit this would be fine"; and then we were told, "No
way", that this cannot work. I think with Geoffrey's links
with the Central & Sheerwood company, it was an engineering
company, so he felt if we put a number of companies together it
would be a reverse takeover. Transfer Technology Limited becomes
part of this, and I think he would be able to take his opportunity
to become the Chairman. He really asked me, "Would you be
interested to be involved in the higher hierarchy there?"
He thought perhaps I would not like it because I am a technical
person. So I said, "I would like to be part of this because
it is a different experience. It is something different and so
on". I think in 1990, when we realised that we are about
to be a large small company, if you like, it is time we should
see a way of doing this. Just to identify this route through Central
MS FILKIN: He was Chairman of Central and Sheerwood?
DR AHMED: I do not think he was Chairman; he was
a Director there. I think Mr Maxwell was Chairman of
Central & Sheerwood at that time. Really the plans were there,
why Geoffrey was interested in a number of Central & Sheerwood
companies, he was very much involved with them: two companies,
A L Dunn and Coventry Apex, two companies making casting and parts
for the automotive industry; and two other companies of Mr Maxwell's,
Lock Inspection and BSS and Transtec was Geoffrey's company. Putting
them together would be the nucleus for building up an engineering
company which can be interesting and can be profitable and so
on. This was the plan in 1990. This was what he was originally
MS FILKIN: By the December of that year had you actually
made the decision to sell it?
DR AHMED: You have to remember we are talking about
11 years ago.
MS FILKIN: Of course.
DR AHMED: I do not have any record of anything. I
have to rely on what was going on at the time which I can remember.
I remember during the time we were doing the Longform Report(?).
MS FILKIN: Absolutely, and that had been completed
at the end of the November?
DR AHMED: Yes, the reason the Longform Report was
prepared was for the reverse takeover. I think that we were very
much in the position to be moving ahead at that time.
MS FILKIN: I understand from that Longform Report
that there were some outstanding debts which Transfer Technology
had at that time. Can you recall what they were?
DR AHMED: I think you have to remember as well that
I have been through a DTI inquiry for the same thing, so this
is what refreshed my mind a little bit, otherwise I would not
have remembered if somebody asked me this question now. Certainly
I know, because it is very dear to my heart, the product which
we were selling; one of the equipment we were selling, was what
we call an electric discharge texturing machine, an EDT machine,
which we sold one for the Roll Centre. Roll Centre was one of
our customer but at the same time it was owned by Mr Robinson.
The machine was sold, if I remember, for about £800,000 or
$800,000, but it is more likely £800,000. Then they have
paid some and there was some which was outstanding.
MS FILKIN: As far as you know, was that the only
DR AHMED: I mentioned to you that our turnover that
year was £10 million, so there must be other debts because
you never sell anything for cash (full immediate payment); you
do not get all the money there so it takes time until you collect
it. I think at that time we were selling a machine to Turkey,
another EDT, and I remember this was about £1.5 million.
People pay 30 per cent. and so on, and 60 per cent.
when you deliver, and 10 per cent. later. So there would
be lots of trade debtors there, but most of these would be either
by letter of credit or -----
MS FILKIN: Ordinary trade debtors?
DR AHMED: Ordinary trade debtors, yes. I am not aware
of any other debtors. I may have seen loan which Mr Robinson has
given the Roll Centre, but this is something which would be a
short-term thing. I would not have known about bigger debts I
do not know. As far as I am concerned, there were no big debtors
for anybody, apart from the trade debtors which we were aware
MS FILKIN: That debt was referred to in the Longform
Report. Do you remember it being discussed as to why it was of
DR AHMED: When you sell pieces of equipment, we are
not selling standard equipment, we sell the EDT machines for example,
it is retro- fitted on an existing machine so it takes a little
bit of time until we get it sorted out. Sometimes it takes a much
longer time in order to finalise the installation and get our
money completely. Sometimes we would have a problem in collecting
all the money. If you have an accountant they will put some risk,
30 or 40 per cent. of the money due, and they will be saying,
"Are you sure you're going to get it?" If somebody asked
me this question I say, "Yes, we hope we are going to get
it, but how sure - this depends on many other things". There
is always a little bit of a question mark until the money is collected,
yes; but this is trade debtors, yes.
MS FILKIN: You do not recall what the reason was
for referring to that debt in the Longform Report?
DR AHMED: I think they would be referring to all
MS FILKIN: No, they were particularly referring to
that one because it also included a loan from Mr Robinson.
DR AHMED: I am guessing now, because Mr Robinson
is the owner of Roll Centre and this is a trade debtor and
it has to be highlighted because it is not a debt with Hitatchi,
for example, in Japan; it is with Mr Robinson and it has
to be highlighted. It is not a surprise that it is highlighted;
and especially it is not just a trade debtor, it is trade debtors
and a loan. If I am the accountant I will be saying to people,
the City, the shareholders, when they acquired Transfer Technology
we had to be aware of these sort of things.
MS FILKIN: Were you aware of any particular debts
outstanding from Sarclad at the time?
DR AHMED: Sarclad was part of Transfer; it is a subsidiary.
Really the £10 million would be the same thing. I cannot
draw a line between this and this. I was Managing Director of
Sarclad and Transfer Technology, so this EDT will be a Sarclad
debt the line between this and this has gone. I think you
have to understand one important point that we had Transfer Technology,
TransTec Inc in the United States, and we had Sarclad Int Ltd
here and Sarclad Inc in the United States. The way business was
conducted - and this is the American interest there - they do
not like to buy machines from Sarclad International in Chesterfield;
so they buy it from Sarclad Inc in Pittsburgh at that time. Therefore
the debt will be for Sarclad Inc. Sarclad Inc will be collecting
this money and then transfer it to us. The tendency - and this
something which I hated from our people working there - if they
send the money to us in England then if they needed any money
they had to ask us for it. They tended to sit on it. I say, "Would
it be very likely that they collect some money", and they
say, "We keep asking them to transfer it to us". There
will be a few hundred thousand dollars, pounds or something which
will be transferred either from TransTec Inc or from Sarclad Inc.
because they do not incur any costs. We make the equipment, send
it to them and they collect the whole amount of money. It will
be an internal struggle to get this money from them. There will
be debtors there but it is not really trade debtors; it is really
collecting money on our behalf and it is a matter of time to make
a transfer to the head office here.
MS FILKIN: Going back to the Roll Centre debt, which
included a loan from Mr Robinson, do you remember discussing
that particular loan with Mr Robinson at the time?
DR AHMED: I do not remember, no. I cannot recall
that at all. I think my understanding of this, the company
(Roll Centre), we were short of money and did not have lots of
money to lend to anybody. If Mr Robinson, who owns 100 per
cent. of the company, finds that there is some money required
for the Roll Centre which is available here, I think it is fair
to say, "Alright", if he transfers this money. I think
it was always short-term. Right now I have just acquired two companies
in Halifax and I do exactly the same thing. If I need some money
in one company I just transfer it from here to there and then
we sort it out, not at the year end, at some time; because it
is really taking from one pocket to another in this respect. As
long as it is really counted and it was kept track of, then I
cannot see anything wrong with this. I do not think Geoffrey will
say, "I need $100,000 there, can I take it?" If we do
not have it then he cannot take this money. If he takes this money
and we need it then he has to find us the money, because Mr Robinson
was, if you like, who financed the company. If one day we do not
have any money he is the one who has to provide this money. If
he takes this money to Roll Centre he has the responsibility of
bringing the money when we need it in TransTec; and he was providing
all the bank guarantees and support for the company. I would not
really object if Mr Robinson decides that he wants to take
some money, as long as I have enough to run my business which
is Transfer Technology in the UK here.
MS FILKIN: You were not involved yourself in approaching
anybody in Roll Centre, or approaching Mr Robinson to
say, "We've got to get these books cleaned up ready for the
plc merger"? You were not involved in those discussions?
DR AHMED: I would not be involved specifically in
talking to people running Roll Centre in saying, "You have
to bring this money back", and so on. I was involved in everything
technical, including Roll Centre business because we supplied
machines and so on. So there will be lots of discussions about
MS FILKIN: Who did you discuss that with?
DR AHMED: Mostly it is a discussion of installation
of the equipment with a gentleman called Holton Easter who was
running it and John Summers.
MS FILKIN: I was just focusing entirely on the loan?
DR AHMED: No, I do not think I would have, even if
I had an interest I would not really because this is not my area.
MS FILKIN: As far as you know, did anybody offer
to settle that debt to Transfer Technology around that time?
DR AHMED: I remember between January 1991 to May
1991 this is the time where we were finalising the deal for this
reverse-takeover, Geoffrey had to finalise everything saying some
money owed by somebody else, we have to collect this money or
find a way, or get somebody to say, "Yes, this money will
be paid", because the company is changing hands. There is
lots of activity in there. Although I was available, and if I
am there it will be discussed with me, at the same time I was
very busy. Actually I have my 1991 diary, and I think you would
be surprised at the travels which I was doing [sic]. I look there
and going to Roll Centre with Mr Robinson, for example; going
to Turkey; going to Japan. Lots of travels, not for long periods
but it is less likely that it will be discussed. My input is not
required in there, but it does not mean that I was not aware,
but it is not something where I will be saying, "Geoffrey,
you must bring this money back", or anything, because really
we are a very, very small company doing lots of things. I am Managing
Director but, at the same time, I am the person who is selling
all these EDTs. You have a better job to do other than to be involved
MS FILKIN: Of course you had a Finance Director?
DR AHMED: Yes, I had a Finance Director, and Geoffrey
was an active Chairman. These sort of things will be more widely
handled by Geoffrey and Roger Davis. It does not mean that I am
not involved but they will not wait for me to say, "Alright,
what are we going to do?" This will be done and I will be
informed about it.
MS FILKIN: You were talking then about that period
January 1991 to May. I want to take you back into December.
Because in December, as you will now know, a payment was made
towards that Roll Centre debt according to the Transfer Technology
accounts. Do you recall that?
DR AHMED: You know, I think I have seen Roger Davis
when he looked at the nominal ledger and he looked at all these
figures - there are thousands of pounds which are coming in there
at the end of the year, 31 December, this is the entry which he
put; and I think it is very difficult for me because I did not
have firsthand knowledge about this identifying which is which.
I think there is one hundred thousand here, two hundred thousand
there, one hundred and forty-seven, so there is lots of money
which is coming into to the TransTec account, if you like, at
that time. It is very difficult for me, without having the piece
of paper which supports what we have there, to say whether this
money came from repayment of a loan, or money coming from Roll
Centre, or coming from Sarclad Inc, or coming from TransTec Inc,
or coming from trade debtors anywhere in the world. I would not
be able to help you here.
MS FILKIN: Mr Robinson tells Coopers in the Longform
Report that in fact £200,000 was paid off the Roll Centre
debt in December. You would not know that?
DR AHMED: Maybe I have known about this at the time,
but I would not really be in a position now to say whether he
said that. I do not have any reason to doubt this. It means some
money came in. I would be more interested in any money -- if there
is money which is due from a customer because, you see, the reasons
they are not paying on time is they must have any doubt or any
problem or we have to do something. I would be more interested
- such a thing would be shouting at me why this money has not
come from Roll Centre, for example, because we have not had the
machine completed. If it is a machine in Turkey, the same time;
if it is anywhere. I would be fully aware of this. Possibly now
I can remember why when we tried to do something about it; but
when it comes to anything like a loan, this loan as far as I am
concerned is an accounting thing. Alright if it is coming in,
if it is not here we are not really in desperate need of this
money so it is less important from my point of view.
MS FILKIN: Perhaps if I could take you on to ask
you about the outstanding bill for management services to Lock,
the Hollis subsidiary. Could you tell me what that bill was for;
what services Transfer Technology have provided?
DR AHMED: Yes, I remember in January in that year,
25 January, I was looking here, "Visit - started 5 a.m."
I remember that day, if you remember ten years ago with all the
trees falling down during that time, I was a bit concerned Geoffrey
told me the day before that we are going to Lock in Oldham. He
was coming to pick me up from my house in Sollihull at 5 a.m.
I do not know when he started his journey! We went there, and
I think we went to Lock on 25 January very early in the morning.
I think we were there before anybody. What the interest was, Lock,
you see, was one of the companies which Mr Maxwell had and
all the management and all key people there left and started a
new company, and really what was left of Lock was almost nothing
because everybody of any value in the company had been transferred
to the other company. In effect, Lock was left empty. Geoffrey
was requested - I am sure Mr Maxwell or somebody asked him to
look after Lock and sort it out. He asked me to go there, and
I think we asked another gentleman from Sarclad, who was in charge
of Sarclad, who met us there in Oldham. Geoffrey went there. I
looked at all the technical aspects of the company; all their
electronics and software and how it is going and what we had to
do to identify who was still there and who was capable of making
some good work there. From that day onwards, if you like, we were
very involved with the -----
MS FILKIN: Did you have an agreement about the services
that you would provide?
DR AHMED: No, I do not think there was. I think this
is something which maybe people would be surprised about. This
was not the first time, I think this is Geoffrey's style. Geoffrey
will find an opportunity like this. Instead of wasting time and
talking about, "Are you going to pay us X amount of money,
plus expenses", and this sort of thing, he will do, "Alright,
I'll start for you", and then I think it becomes, "If
we manage to do a good job and the company is working well, you
can ask for the management charge and so on". It happened
before. I remember 1983-84 a company called Agie which is a Swiss
company which is in EDM, they have a company which they work with
here in the UK and this company went into receivership. So the
Swiss before they knew there was a problem there, Geoffrey went
and collected these people who worked in this company and employed
them and put them to work in one office next to my office in TransTec
without really any agreement with anybody. He carried on taking
care of all customers of the company. Two months later Agie realised
there was a problem with their company and this was what got them
talking to Geoffrey, because Geoffrey really held the company
together, continued providing support and he was able to get a
reasonable deal with them for his services and services which
MS FILKIN: Let me take you back if I could to this
particular set of services for Lock.
DR AHMED: It is similar to this.
MS FILKIN: When you get to the autumn of 1990 and
you are into planning the merger acquisition in your mind and
managing this business, were you expecting a fee from Hollis for
DR AHMED: Yes, I was expecting fees from Hollis,
not at December but this would be from January onwards. In January
I went there to sort it out and I thought it was just one day
MS FILKIN: I understand that, but I am talking about
DR AHMED: What happened after that, because the company
did not have enough structure there and the area of electronics
and software, I remember having the people working on the electronics
and software there in Coleshill. I do not remember his surname,
Bell I think, he was working with us in TransTec and doing the
development work. I do not have any records of this, but I remember
there was a video tape prepared for TransTec at that time, and
I remember showing them, "This is a development programme
which is going for Lock", and the guy, Bell, and his work;
and all our engineers were participating in this development work.
We have done reasonable work which justifies in our mind to collect
--- I think this £200,000 was something which
was in our minds - we are going to get this money from Lock for
our work which is there. Your question there: were we expecting
money? Yes. Is this money justified? We have done work. Yes. Why
I remember this, I remember in presentations we were saying how
wonderful Lock would be because it was a good industry where we
were, aerospace, automotive and steel, so this was something which
would add to the strength of the company and so on. I remember
this from the video, as I said. I do not have any copies of this
video but Bernard O'Sullivan, Geoffrey's lawyer, I sent him
copies about two years ago so he may have this one there. You
can see people saying we have a management contract for Lock.
Again, this management contract has never been written; it was
not really identified how much anybody was going to be paid; but
we were working on the assumption, alright, once we sort it out
and get Lock working we would be able to get some money.
MS FILKIN: You did not know about the letter setting
out these services that had gone to Hollis, setting out the fee,
from Mr Robinson?
DR AHMED: I think the invoice which has been published
MS FILKIN: No, I do not mean that; I mean much before
that. You did not know about that?
DR AHMED: I would not have known. I may have known
about it at the time but I would not remember, because it is pretty
normal. Mr Robinson would not have any difficulty. The secretary
who was typing his letters is my secretary, and she is still working
for me now. She is the same person who was working in 1984 until
today. I know the way in which she would work. I think Geoffrey
would dictate something and she would type it and send it to him.
Usually if I am sitting there, she would show it to me; but if
I am not there, they are not going to say, "Alright, we'll
keep this one". I will tell you my opinion .....(end of side
A of the tape)
MS FILKIN: May I go through it. You are saying that
in October and November you did expect at some point to get this
fee from Hollis?
DR AHMED: Yes.
MS FILKIN: The figure you had in your mind was about
DR AHMED: Yes.
MS FILKIN: Did you see that as a payment that was
due to Transfer Technology, or a payment that was due to Geoffrey
DR AHMED: I think I would have seen it as both. I
could not see a line between Geoffrey and TransTec. Geoffrey owns
100 per cent. of TransTec. If this money was paid to him then
it means that he put more effort in, more than anybody, because
he used to be going there more regularly than me.
MS FILKIN: But were you expecting a fee to come in
to Transfer Technology?
DR AHMED: I would not be surprised if it comes to
TransTec. I would not be surprised if part of it would be going
to Geoffrey, because Geoffrey was doing a lot of service himself,
as running the company. This is Lock and people are reporting
to him and getting his reports regularly from him from January
through that time. Geoffrey was the Chief Executive. He was the
one looking after Lock. I would not be surprised if it is paid
to us or paid to Geoffrey. In my opinion it did not make much
difference, because Geoffrey's money, all of it, was held in TransTec.
He did not have money, all the money which he owned it was owed
by the company. I think the line was very difficult to draw. If
the money came, I was expecting it to be TransTec, because we
had people working there and were paying them money and supporting
them and spending, and we never had any money from them. I would
be expecting it more to TransTec, if you like.
MS FILKIN: Go back to what you were talking about
when I butted in. Were you aware that Geoffrey Robinson had raised
an invoice for those services on 24th October 1990?
DR AHMED: I would say, I would not have seen this,
for a simple reason - because invoices (inaudible). I would have
corrected this one by saying, "Alright, if you want to put
Orchards ..., he cannot pay for Transfer Technology Limited".
If you ask somebody, pay me, and pay Transfer Technology Limited.
How come you cannot do this? If you are raising it by Transfer
Technology Limited then we have to add the VAT. The invoice as
it looked there, it seems a very amateurish sort of thing. It
is very likely Geoffrey has dictated this. It has been done very
quickly. I think he may have agreed that this money would
be paid. I think this is something which will be just to state
the amount of money and so on, and this will be handled in a different
way later on. This would be my assumption. I would not remember
this being raised with me because maybe I was not there on 24th
October. I do not know where I was at that time, this is one thing.
Secondly, if I was there, if I had seen it this way I would have
said that this is not the right way to raise an invoice because
it did not look right, because it is in Geoffrey's name and not
MS FILKIN: You said you were anticipating this fee
for part of the work that was done by your staff within Transfer
DR AHMED: Yes.
MS FILKIN: Why then was it not referred to in the
Longform Report as a fee that was expected?
DR AHMED: I think there are two reasons, and I am
guessing now. One of the reasons in my mind that Lock was part
of the arrangement which we had there. Lock would be part of the
acquisition. Lock would be part of the new company which would
be created. In effect, I think I was seeing this as: we sorted
out the situation that it will be available to become part of
the group and, therefore, I felt this one as an indirect benefit
which we get in there. Because if we did not do that, if we left
Lock without any help at all from us then it would be worth nothing
at that time.
MS FILKIN: Let me be correct about that. You were
expecting it into Transfer Technology. Therefore, one would have
expected, as many of your other fees were shown in the Longform
report and for that fee to have been shown within the books of
Transfer Technology; even if you, at the end of the day, did not
DR AHMED: But, you see, we did not raise the invoice
from Transfer Technology.
MS FILKIN: Absolutely.
DR AHMED: In this case, if (inaudible) were doing
this and saying, "Alright, we may get £200,000 for work
which we are doing from January until now and we haven't raised
any invoice for this", I think this would be questionable.
The other point which I think will answer partly this, the financial
agreement between Geoffrey and the group, if you like, that he
will be getting ten times after tax as his multiples. He will
sell Transfer Technology Limited for whatever profit we are going
to make multiplied by ten.
MS FILKIN: You want to show as great a profit as
DR AHMED: Yes, but we want to show this, but at the
same time who is going to pay this money? This is something which
the accountant who is there, if they allow £200,000 to come
in it will mean £2 million extra on price. They will be saying,
"Alright, you haven't collected this money, and it means
you are increasing Geoffrey's profit". People will be questioning
MS FILKIN: When you say "people"?
DR AHMED: I am thinking about Maxwell people. I think
it was Charterhouse. It means they would say, "This debt
has not materialised because he Transtec has not raised an invoice".
It was really something which was almost forgotten about. Because
we say now the bigger things, that Lock will be part of the group,
and these people who were working with us will become formally
part of the same company which all of us will be part of. I am
trying to find how --- you know, this is not the only, if you
like, deal we tried to do which did not come with anything. I think
I look at this one, if you think about the effort which we will
do for Rolls Royce, for example, to convince them to buy something
from us and we spend weeks and weeks and days to develop something,
and then we may end with a very good success. Sometimes you end
with, "Thank you very much, you still need to do more work".
It is pretty normal. You always look forward and do not look back
and say what we could have had for this. If I remember, if we
imagine we are sitting now with Coopers(?) talking about thisLongform
Report, of course we were looking at every penny in order to help
how much we sell the company for. If you say, "This is £200,000
and this will be no cost incurred for this because all cost was
written off, yes, we will go by £200,000 but our profit will
go also by £200,000", I think there will be a big question
about taking this into consideration because there is no agreement,
there is no contract. There was no contract which we had there.
MS FILKIN: You have not seen it?
DR AHMED: I have not seen it. Between TransTec and
MS FILKIN: No, between Mr Robinson and Hollis.
DR AHMED: I do not think there was one between TransTec.
We were talking about one but, as far as I am aware, there was
MS FILKIN: Right, now I understand.
DR AHMED: Geoffrey was involved with A L Dunn and
Apex; and I know he got £150,000 from Mr Maxwell for his
work there. Most of these meetings were held in TransTec in the
same office I am in now. I know the people who were coming there.
I have never been involved in this because it is not part of my
MS FILKIN: I understand, thank you. If the fee was
anticipated - and you have explained why you did not put it in
the books as anticipated, and why you did not add it in to the
possible profit and I understand that now - but why, if that was
the case, was Roger Davis unaware of all of that?
DR AHMED: Unaware of what?
MS FILKIN: He was unaware that there was any fee
due to Transfer Technology for management services delivered by
DR AHMED: I think this supports what I am saying.
Because there was no contract; there was no invoice; there was
no agreement on anything. We were doing this work in anticipation.
I think if Roger says people were not working for Lock and only
doing work for them there he would be wrong.
MS FILKIN: No, I have asked you about the anticipated
fee which you tell me you anticipated, and Mr Robinson has told
me he anticipated. What the question is: you were Managing Director,
why would your Finance Director not know that?
DR AHMED: He must have known about it because we
were talking about it.
MS FILKIN: Are you saying he is lying?
DR AHMED: I am not saying he is lying.
MS FILKIN: That is what he says.
DR AHMED: He may not remember.
MS FILKIN: No, what he says is he did not know about
it, not that he does not remember.
DR AHMED: He has to explain this.
MS FILKIN: So you are saying that is not true?
DR AHMED: I am saying it is true that we were doing
work and I think -----
MS FILKIN: Did you ever talk to your Finance Director
about that anticipated fee?
DR AHMED: I do not recall talking to him specifically
on this, but it was general knowledge we had people there. My
point, in 1990 when we recorded a video tape about the company
activities and everybody had seen it, we were saying that we are
doing management work for Lock and this work will be for Lock
and had people working there.
MS FILKIN: When you are preparing your forward management
accounts for your expected income, and I have seen how frequently
Roger Davis was preparing such accounts and I have seen the detail
in which they were done and you would have been looking at them.
It would be usual in most companies to build in the anticipated
fee, if you were anticipating it as he was doing for other expected
payments which he expected people to pay. He did not do that for
this particular fee.. At any of those points when you saw those
forward management accounts did you never draw it to his attention,
that he left out the anticipated fee?
DR AHMED: I would say, although we were expecting,
and I have mentioned, £200,000 because this was raised at
the time - we know that we were doing this work, it was not something
which we can 100 per cent. say that we have this because, as I
told you, as far as I am aware there was no written contract.
We are talking about something in October/November and we were
doing this work from January. It would be illogical to say, "Yes,
we expect some money", if we haven't really finalised and
agreed exactly how much this money will be. It is almost like
working with a customer hoping to get a contract. This would be
in anticipation, like any other customer which we are working
with. If you are talking about forecasting money, this is something
else. I am just saying this is anticipated, certainly by me; I
am sure Roger must have known about it, but whether he has taken
it into consideration when putting all potential forecasts - this
is something which perhaps he was too prudent, thinking this is
something he is not sure ----
MS FILKIN: No, that is not what he has said.
DR AHMED: If he did not know about it this is something
else. I cannot really answer for him. All I can tell you
is that I was aware of this.
MS FILKIN: Did you ever discuss it with your Finance
DR AHMED: I do not remember discussing it with him,
but it does not mean I have not.
MS FILKIN: I accept that; but you cannot recall ever
DR AHMED: I cannot recall discussing it with him,
no. I cannot also recall not discussing it with him.
MS FILKIN: You will know now from your discussions
with the DTI Inspector that in fact a Pergamon cheque for £200,000
was debited against the Pergamon accounts at approximately the
same time as the £200,000 came into the TransTec accounts
to pay off the Roll Centre debt. When you have reflected on that
information are you of the view that that cheque was the cheque
that paid off that debt?
DR AHMED: I have no doubt in my mind of two things:
I think you are linking them together, I would not have - there
was money coming in and out which is for trade debtors and different
things which would be there. If you ask me, if we had £10
million it is very likely about £800,000 every month would
be coming to the company one way or another. If you are selling
for £10 million a year if you divide by 12 it will be
something like that. There will be money coming in and out. This
is something which I would not remember now exactly what money
came in and what money went out. When you are asking, did we get
money from Mr Maxwell, which is this cheque for £200,000,
if it has come to TransTec as a cheque for £200,000 from
Hollis, Pergamon or whatever, I would have known about this for
a simple reason: £200,000 is not a small amount of money;
it is even more because if I am selling one machine for a million
pounds we will spend money on materials, we will spend money on
labour, we will spend money on commission, people travelling,
so the net value for the company will be no more than a few hundred
thousand pound. If this money was a management fee coming to us
with no cost incurred then it would be almost like a million pound,
not the £200,000 only. For a company like us, if this money
comes to us it would be a major thing coming to us. If it came
to us directly saying that, "This money, £200,000, is
coming to you from Pergamon in Transfer Technology Limited's name",
all of us would have known about this. The atmosphere, the situation
which we had there, the way the company was run, the openness
which was there really would have allowed me as first person to
know about this; Roger would have known about it as well.
MS FILKIN: As you have said, if it had come that
way, it would have had VAT added to it?
DR AHMED: And would have come with VAT added in,
and would have come in our records. In that time, I do not know
when the final Longform Report was written, but it was during
that time there would be continuous coming and going and anything
like this; because our year end was coming as well. All this would
have appeared very clearly and without any doubt about it.
MS FILKIN: But that would not be the same for £200,000
that came in to pay off the Roll Centre debt?
DR AHMED: Of course, if money comes to pay the Roll
Centre debt this money would be coming from a different source.
MS FILKIN: Where would it have come from if it was
to pay off that debt?
DR AHMED: I would not know now. Even if somebody
tells me that we got £200,000 which is part of the loan,
then I am sure that Geoffrey would have arranged for this either
from Madame Bourgeois paying this one, and maybe one of his brothers;
I think his brother - they sold their business but I do not know
if it was that time or before that. There would be ways. May be
Roll Centre has done some business for which they created
some income to pay this money back.
MS FILKIN: Are you of the view that Mr Robinson would
have been involved in organising that payment?
DR AHMED: If this money is paid by Roll Centre and
it is part of payment of his loan then Mr Robinson will be aware
of this, and he will be doing that. For me, if somebody comes
to say to me that we have got £200,000 for Mr Robinson's
loan which is being paid, this is not news. If we have this money,
I can honestly say - and in my belief it will show he has given
it to us before - I would say 100 per cent. certain that this
money would not have come from Maxwell. I think I have a very
reasonable memory. It was very good before.
MS FILKIN: Mr Robinson says you have a very good
DR AHMED: No, I am thinking about now. I am struggling
a bit. I would say, if something like this happened I would
have remembered that. I did not used to write anything. I
always worked from memory, and this is why I like it more if I
worked with 50 or 60 people, because I do not need to keep records
and I would remember everything. I am just saying, if it had come
this way we would have known about it. Let us assume Mr Robinson
has taken this cheque and he paid it somehow in the United States
and got this money to be transferred to come to us as payment
of this loan, I would not have known about it.
MS FILKIN: Have you got any record in your diary
for around early December where you would have noticed that that
might have come in, say, from 7th December onwards?
DR AHMED: I can tell you this is 3rd May visit to
Bridgeport. I think on 10th December we went to Turkey.
MS FILKIN: They have just got your visits in?
DR AHMED: This is a diary which puts in visits and
so on. No, I would not have had any record of this, I think. This
is why -----
MS FILKIN: On to 10th December?
DR AHMED: I was back from Ankara. This is somebody
from India. This is my son's school and I was going to do some
talk to them. There was no record of this. Clearly in my mind,
if money has come direct to TransTec or in Geoffrey's name but
paid to TransTec I would have known this immediately. If it has
gone in a different roundabout way -----
MS FILKIN: To pay off the loan?
DR AHMED: Yes, but if it has come direct to TransTec
to pay off the loan we would not have known about it.
MS FILKIN: Yes, I understand.
DR AHMED: I am just saying, if it was put in our
account direct I think we would have known about it. If it had
a little bit of a tour before coming to us this would be a different
MS FILKIN: Of course, I understand what you are saying.
DR AHMED: Just because I remember what happened there,
one of the reasons I feel strongly it is very unlikely that this
was the case, Mr Robinson had £150,000 before that at
the same time which was from Maxwell as well for the work with
A L Dunn and Coventry Apex, and this went to his account and was
declared. If he has taken £200,000 in the same way at the
same time why would he have treated it differently? I have known
Geoffrey for 20 years, and Geoffrey as anybody, like me, like
anybody, will try to take a risk and do everything, but I have
never seen him at any time during the 20 years which we worked
together - which when it comes to finance he would ask and if
Roger said, "We cannot do this", that is it. I do
not think he would try to be anything (there is a line there)
because he is very conscientious about his position. I think this
is a very small story. Somebody a long time ago bought one machine
for us and we were selling it for £15,000 and he said, "I'll
pay you £10,000 in cash", and of course we laughed and
we would not have done anything like this. Geoffrey never, ever
- I saw him stretching everything, doing everything which is really
like any businessman will try to do, but when it comes to something
like this, when it comes to tax, accounting, anything like this,
I think he is very conscientious. He is not a stupid person. I
think he will know that something would come out. If it worked
like this, how can he consider the whole thing and put this money
that does not come direct to TransTec, and the £150,000 go
and declare it and put everything on it. Why? It is very illogical
to think that one person would say, "Alright, this £200,000
we'll deal with it differently", and not the same thing.
He could have done exactly the same things and, yes, he would
not have paid tax on it. It comes to TransTec; it is, again, his
money and he could have dealt with it straightforwardly. I cannot
see why should he have the round about ---- I do not remember
the money comes to our account in clean ---- Of course you will
ask about the other £200,000 which is coming there at this
time; it is not just one £200,000.
MS FILKIN: (Inaudible).
DR AHMED: In this case, looking at it backwards eleven
years afterwards, it is very difficult to see why this was the
MS FILKIN: Thank you for telling me that. Now that
you now know a cheque which nobody had thought went out of Hollis
did in fact go out, and that there was an invoice raised by Mr
Robinson and that a sum of money which, by coincidence if you
like, happened to be the same sum of money that got paid off the
loan, what is your explanation for that series of events now you
know all those other pieces of information?
DR AHMED: I wish I had known. It needs somebody to
find out. I think the key point is a cheque was raised, a
cheque was paid out of the account and who got this money we do
not know. Something else, there is some money paid in TransTec's
account which is similar to £200,000. I think if you
look there was something on 10th December or whatever. I think
the whole problem which makes things difficult to analyse, there
is no record of the company; not because of the time only but
because the company does not exist. When the DTI were talking
to me in 1998/99 about this affair. So it is very difficult to
trace anything there. I think it is a big mystery. If somebody
has taken this cheque you can write in your records it is in Mr
Robinson's name and it can be in any other name because when you
look at the bank account it does not state whom it was paid to?
What is to stop Mr Maxwell taking the cheque in any one of
his companies and he would put it in his records that this went
to Geoffrey Robinson and it is paid to somebody else. It is possible,
but who can tell?
MS FILKIN: Thank you for telling me all of that.
That has been very helpful indeed. You will understand why I now
have to ask you this question, I hope. Would you be willing, if
necessary, to repeat on oath what you have told me to the Standards
and Privileges Committee?
DR AHMED: I have no problem with that.
MS FILKIN: Thank you. What we will now do, as I said
when we started, is we will make a transcript of this. We will
send it to you to correct and to add any other explanations. I
am trying to get the whole picture, and that is all I am trying
to do - to get the whole picture. If I could ask you to keep this
conversation absolutely confidential, not to discuss it with anyone
else until the report is published and then of course you may,
but not in the meantime. Thank you very much indeed for coming
and for being so open with me.
DR AHMED: Thank you.
112 This sentence
added later by Dr Ahmed. Back