ZX Spectrum reboot firm boss delays director vote date again

Vega+ scandal lingers as desperate board delays crunch-time vote again

The ZX Spectrum reboot scandal will drag on for at least another month as Retro Computers Ltd’s embattled directors have again delayed a showdown that could lead to their dismissal.

The company, as regular readers know all too well, raised £513,000 from nearly 5,000 members of the public via crowdfunding website Indiegogo to produce a ZX Spectrum-themed handheld gaming console. This was to be called the ZX Spectrum Vega+.

The Vega+ was originally advertised as being ready for delivery by Christmas 2016, the money being raised earlier that year to put the final design into production.

Tuesday 3 July was supposed to be the day when the company’s shareholders voted on whether to remove all its directors, who are chairman David Levy, MD Suzanne Martin and CTO Janko Mrsic-Flogel.

RCL’s shareholders, who each have a 25 per cent stake in the firm, are Levy, former MD Paul Andrews, former CTO Chris Smith and Sinclair Research Ltd, Sir Clive Sinclair’s corporate presence.

According to notes of the meeting made available by Andrews on a Facebook group for disgruntled RCL customers (Facebook registration and group membership required), Levy found a provision in the company’s articles that allowed him to delay the vote by another 30 days, something he did not deny when we asked him about it yesterday. The meeting had already been adjourned for a month prior to this.

Levy did deny to The Register that RCL’s board had fallen out with the Sinclair Research Ltd (SRL) representative at the meeting, insisting that he had been shown a working Vega+ console. Andrews suggested otherwise in his published notes, claiming: “Mostly Levy said they would not answer the SRL questions ‘until after they had shipped’. I think it’s fair to say no questions asked were answered by RCL, and the conversation went round and round and round again between SRL and RCL.”

RCL has declared it will be shipping some units this week, a claim it has made so many times over the past few years.

The console

As previously detailed, Andrews and Smith want Levy and his team off the board because of the long delay in delivery of the console. Questions have mounted over the state of RCL’s finances, especially what has happened to the allegedly ring-fenced £513,000 of customers’ money.

Indiegogo has kept a very low profile in all this until The Register reported a successful legal action brought against RCL where the judge found that Indiegogo’s terms and conditions were meaningless, ruling that an RCL customer had formed an implied contract of sale with the game console firm. Indiegogo has since insisted it is going to hire a debt collection agency to recover customers’ monies from RCL, though it was happily transferring five-figure sums of customers’ cash to RCL as late as the middle of last year.

Bank statements filed at Luton County Court and seen by El Reg revealed that on the same day as RCL’s accounts claimed it had £433,000 in capital and reserves, in fact it had just £1,200 in the bank. The account was overdrawn at points with cash top-ups being supplied by VAT refunds from HMRC.

In a statement posted to its Facebook page yesterday, RCL made various claims that Andrews has committed criminal offences and that he is under investigation by various agencies. No evidence was offered to support these claims. It also claimed that Andrews had "immediately released to the press" his meeting notes, when in fact El Reg saw them on Facebook.

Questions remain over what RCL's board have done with the £513,000 of crowdfunded cash and when will they refund the 489 customers who have requested a total of £55,505 be returned to them. In addition, Indiegogo's promised debt collectors have yet to materialise. ®

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