The crumbling multinational empire of the distie once known as Entatech has come under scrutiny in the High Court again as liquidators working on behalf of the UK's taxman try to seize the assets of founder Jason Tsai and his family.
In an ongoing saga that first came to public attention when Tsai was jailed for contempt of court in 2017, liquidators from Begbies Traynor are still struggling, years later, to recover all the cash and assets from Entatech's downfall.
"Your lordship may recall the prison authorities intercepted an email we think was from Ruth, John and Andrew instructing [Tsai] to continue to lie and telling him what to say, giving him a script of falsehoods. That is the context for this," barrister Stephen Robins told High Court judge Tom Leech QC yesterday morning.
Robins was seeking a variety of asset-freezing orders and proprietary injunctions against the Tsai family, as part of Begbies Traynor's efforts to track down what the liquidator claims are ill-gotten gains squirrelled away out of reach of the British authorities.
Entatech – legally speaking, Enta Technologies Ltd, renamed Changtel Solutions in 2015 – was forced under after Ji-Chuen "Jason" Tsai was found to be part of a VAT carousel fraud scheme. That got him banned from being a company director for 13 years back in 2017, having exited the business in 2013.
Tsai's tax-dodging between 2007 and 2010 left him owing millions to HMRC which the liquidation of Entatech, once enjoying a turnover of £110m per annum, was supposed to cover. Yet after trying to spin an elaborate web of lies to the High Court and hide his global network of assets, Tsai was thrown in jail – and Begbies Traynor is still struggling to get its hands on the millions he and his family supposedly dispersed across the globe.
Speaking for some of the Tsais*, barrister Paul Greenwood told the court: "The principal objection to this hearing is the order being made in respect of the proprietary injunction and the extended disclosure, ancillary and proprietary injunction disclosure orders... That is the real focus of the dispute between the parties."
He later added: "There were non-fraudulent parts of this business," referring to Entatech's IT distie activities.
Ruth – Tsai's wife – and his sons, Andrew and John, were said in court to have been active participants in Tsai's tax fraud. When investigators caught up with the man himself, he enlisted his family to help move money offshore and outside the effective reach of HMRC and its liquidators, as High Court judge Mrs Justice Rose found in 2017.
"We are, I'm afraid, dealing with people who, it's clear, don't want to tell the truth and will do whatever they can to avoid having to reveal the whereabouts of the missing monies," continued Robins in court yesterday.
The barrister also told the court that John has declared himself bankrupt in the US, creating further confusion in the case, which involves nine defendants from Tsai's family and a Seychelles corporation called Lead Summit Limited.
The liquidation of Changtel Solutions and applications for freezing orders against the Tsais continues. ®
* "Some complication has been caused because historically [solicitors' firm] Edwin Coe took instructions through John [Tsai] on behalf of those respondents," said Greenwood, telling the judge he represented Tsai's youngest son Andrew, Andrew's wife Pui-Lai, and three other people. "Those [people] all live abroad variously in Taiwan and other places. As a result of John's changed circumstances we no longer take instructions through John and that has caused difficulty in getting instructions from them," explained the barrister, leaving the situation as clear as mud.
Curious readers can inspect Tsai's former family homes in Telford - referred to in winding up reports (PDF) filed at Companies House upon liquidation of Entatech - on an estate agent's website. The two gated properties seemingly fell into disrepair after the Tsais were forced out of them following Jason's downfall.
Enta Technologies Ltd's last set of accounts filed under Tsai's control, in 2013, show revenues of £160m (over a one-off 16-month period) but pre-tax profits of just £86,000. They also revealed £255,572 in charitable donations to the Tsai Lau-Chi Charitable Foundation "to enhance their culture exchange programmes".