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THE OUTRAGE ON A BRECON SHIRE…

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BANKRUPTS, LIQUIDATIONS, &C.I

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[THE MONMOUTH DIVORCE I CASE.…

THE ABERYSTWITH COLLEGE.

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uiJS MILFORD DOCKS COMPANY.

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uiJS MILFORD DOCKS COMPANY. ALLEGED EXTENSIVE FORGERIES. ARREST OF THE SECRETARY. At the Mansion House, London, on Tuesday, Capt. Charles Clifton Hood, 42, secretary of the Milford Dock Company, was charged before Alderman Sir Robert Carden, M.P., with forging the debenture stock of the company to the extent of £ 44-,000, and omitting to make certain entries in the books of the company. Mr. St. John Wontner appeared to prosecute, and Mr. George Lewis defended. In opening the case, Mr. Wontner said that he should merely state a few of the facts which were incidental to the charge, and then ask for a re- mand. The defendant had been secretary of the Milford Dock Company for several years a com- pany formed under an Act of Parliament, with a capital of £250,000. Powers were also given to the company to raise £133,000 by debenture stock. The allegation was that the defendant as secretary to the company had issued debenture stock to the amount of £100,000 in excess of the Parliamentary limit, and the circumstances under which those bonds were issued would be the sub- ject of that investigation. The company was formed to construct docks and railways at Milford, and the contract was taken up by Mr. Lake, who had from time to time been paid by debenture bonds and bills of exchange. For some time past there had been disputes between the company and Mr. Lake, and the matter had been the subject of investigation in the Court of Chancery. The contract was originally taken by a Mr. Appelby. The mode of payment was by what was known as Lloyd's bonds." Very little cash actually passed between the parties, but upon the bonds or debentures bankers advanced money, the securities being perfectly legitimate. In the course of the litigation Mr. Lake found that bonds had been issued in excess of the powers granted by the Act of Parliament, and that they had not been entered on the debenture register of the company. Information was given by Sir E. J. Reed, M.P., the chairman, and the directors of the company, but they had taken no steps to vindicate justice, and consequently Mr. Lake had assumed the responsibility of giving the defendant into custody. On the way to the station he said he did not see how they could charge him without charg- ing the others, and that as for the alleged forgery, all the bonds were signed in his own name. These were briefly the circumstances of the case, into which he would go more fully on another occa- sion. Mr. Lewis asked how the charge of forgery was framed. Mr. Wontner said the forgery consisted in issuing debenture stock which he had no power to issue. The Act prescribed the number of bonds which could be issued, and all other bonds were worthless, whilst those who gave value for them were defrauded of their money. The documents were signed by the secretary and sealed with the company's seal. If the charges were not accurate they might be altered. Mr. Lewis said both charges were absolutely worthless. Detective Sergeant Lythal formally proved the prisoner's arrest. Mr. Wontner then applied for a remand. Mr. Lewis said he could not allow the case to pass without protecting the defendant's honour by saying that he had not been guilty of anything which affected the high character which he had long held in the city of London. He had not com- mitted even a technical wrong. The prosecution had not been instituted with any public object, but simply out of spite. There was a mass of litigation going on, and the defendant's evidence was of the greatest value against Mr. Lake's claim. It was not suggested that a single penny of any sort or kind had found its way into the defendant's pocket, and he scouted the idea that he had com- mitted any offence—legal or technical. He, there- fore, asked that the defendant might be admitted to bail. Mr. Wontner declined to admit that the de- fendant had not profited by the transaction, or that the litigation had anything to do with the matter. He must ask for substantial bail. The' Alderman remanded the case, and admitted the defendant to bail in two sureties of £1,000 each. APPLICATION FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF LIQUIDATOR. In the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division (before Vice-Chancellor Bacon), on Wednesday, on his lordship entering the court onWednesday morn- ing Mr. Millar, Q.C., asked permission to move in the matter of the Milford Dock Company (Limited) and the Companies' Act. His motion was for the appointment of some fit and proper person as pro- visional liquidator of the effects of the company, or that such oilier order might be made as the circumstances of the case required. There had been two petitions on the paper in the matter on the last two petition days, the first having been opened and partly heard, and the second, for which he appeared, not yet having been called on. The necessity for the present application was increased by the fact that on Tuesday the secretary of the company was brought up before the magistrates at the Mansion House on a charge of forging and uttering debenture stock of the company, aoo it was with regard to this that he was asking for the appointment ef a provisional liquidator, trusting that the circumstances would bring the matter within the ordinary rules of urgency. He asked that the court should appoint a liquidator at once on the petitioners giving. an undertaking as to security. The circumstances of the case were these. The Miiford Dock Company took upon themselves the duty of making a dock at Milford Haven, They had, however, no funds to carry on the works or means to pay the contractor or even the ordinary office expenses. The friends of the company had caused the materials of the company to be taken in execution, and it was feared they might proceed to sell. Interest on the entire fund of debenture stock issued by the com- pany had fallen due from time to time, and in July last, on a payment of interact falling due, the com- pany made default. The company was indebted to various creditors in respect of Lloyd's bonds, &c., to the extent of JSI.60,000, and they had no means of paying that sum beyond the amount of £42,400, representing their uncalled capital, which could not be called up except at intervals, and the uncompleted works, the value of which could only be realised by winding up. The interest of the petitioners was as follows:—Mr. Mowatt, who was a gentleman of position and means—inciden- tally it appeared that he had been in the House of Commons, and was now a director of the Great Northern Railway—held debentures for £1,500, together with an overdue and unpaid acceptaece of the company for .£6,000, The other petitioners, Mrs. Anne Lister and Mr. J. G. Lister, were shareholders in the company to the amount of £5,200, in shares of £10 each. In this condition of things the necessity for a. winding up order seemed evident. A great part of one petition day and a very long part of another had been taken up in discussing the question of the first petition. Mr. Marten, Q.C. (interposing): I have not been heard at all; and I have a perfect answer to both petitions. Mr. Millar admitted that the company had Hot been heard, put said his clients had information that the company intended to consent to an order being made on the petition of the first petitioner He held in his hand a letter of the 26th of January from Messrs. Newton and Co., solicitors to the company, to the petitioner's solicitors, statin^ that they had received instructions to consent to an order. Mr. Marten: That is withdrawn. There was a. misapprehension about it, and it was withdrawn. Mr. Millar went on to read an affidavit of Mr. Mowatt referring to the large issue of debenture stock by the company, and a further affidavit stating that since he had made the former one he had been informed by the chairman of the com- pany that debenture stock to a much larger amount than he had previously stated had been issued by the company. The charge of forgery against the secretary was given in all tho news- papers, and it was, therefore, unnecessary for him to go into it. There was an affidavit also by Colonel Hope, of the Army and Navy Club. Mr. Marten: That I have not seen. Mr. Millar: I am moving without the consent of the company on a matter of urgency. Mr. Marten: But I am not going to have affida- vits read 1 have never seen. I object to your going on now. I think it ought to be adjourned till Saturday. There is no urgency at all in the matter. Mr. Miller went on to read the affidavit, which stated the circumstances under which the secre- tary of the company had been placed under arrest and charged with forging the debenture stock. This, he said, was the position of things in which the petitioners came before the court. It was clear that there was some influence unfavourable to the full investigation of these matters. The secretary was, under the ^circumstances, not the proper person to be left in possession of the books and securities at the company's offices. It was evident that the board was not engaged in taking measures against Mr. Hood, and it also appeared that they had some concurrence with him in the views he took. Under these circum- stances, he asked his lordship to consider this as a matter of urgency, and to appoint a provisional liquidator to take possession and protect the assets of the company. Mr. Latham, who appeared on the same side, said that as long ago as the 20th of January Mr. Mowatt stated that debenture stock to the amount of £50,000, for the issue of which the company's Act gave no authority, had been issued. This affidavit had not been answered, although the directors had had ten days to consider the matter. They had kept the secretary, who appeared to be chiefly to blame, in office. He was arrested in the board- room in the presence of the directors, and they had stood by him from beginning to end. This being so, he contended that the directors were not proper persons to retain custody of the papers or books of the company pending the delay which must occur in the appointment of omcial liqutdator, even in the event of a winding-up order being made. A receiver was appointed on the 11th of January, but only of the property described in the debenture stock security. ? His Lordship: Is it any less than all. Mr. Marten: No, my lord; it covers everything. Mr. Lathom. said it was not so. There was no covering deed whate ver, and he defied Mr. Marten to produce one. There was a charge on the under- taking and nothing else. This did not protect the property. It pr&ected nothing but the under- taking. The chief danger was, not that the pro- perty would be mad.) away with, but that the books would. The debenture holders were entitled to have some kind of protection against the books and property being made away with pending the ap- pointment of an official liquidator. Vice-Chancellor Bacon: Having given an order for the appointment of a receiver, I can make no such order as I am now asked to make. There is an order appointing a receiver of all the property and assets of the company, comprising or subject to the securities or charges created by the deben- tures or debenture stock issued by the defendant company to the plaintiffs as tiseir debenture tures or debenture stock issued by the defendant company to the plaintiffs as tiseir debenture holders. All 1 have to consider is the interest of the directors. I find the matter somewhet in a I I state of confusion—with abundance of litigation going on, a quantity of things stated to which I can pay no kind of attention, the secretary charged with forgery, and the matter being pending at this moment. I find that the case of urgency is established, but I find also that there is a receiver appointed by the authority of this court, who, in my opinion, protects the interests of the parties now moving, and any other parties interested in the assets of the company, including all the cre- ditors of the company. I, therefore, refuse this application. In reply to Mr. Marten, his Lordship said he must reserve the costs. In the Supreme Court of Judicature, Royal Courts of Justice, Court of Appeal, before the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Lindley. and Lord Justice Bowen, on Wednesday, Mr. Lathom ap- plied for leave to serve notice on Thursday of an appeal against the refusal of Vice-CHancellor Bacon that morning to appoint a provisional liquidator to protect the books, papers, and seal of the company. The ground for the application, according to the statement of counsel, was as fol- lows :—Debenture stock had been over issued, and the secretary was before the magistrate at the Man- sion House the previous day charged with forgery. They intended to consent to the winding-up of the company, and one of the debenture holders applied that morning for the appointment of a provisional liquidator, but his lordship refused the appli- cation, on the ground that a receiver had been appointed. They wanted to take the books and property of the company until the petition was heard and the receiver appointed.— The President said there did not appear to be any danger of tampering with the books. What was wanted was, not a provisional liquidator, but an injunction to prevent books being tampered with. A provisional liquidator was for the protection of assets and not for the protection of books and papers.—Mr. Lathom: If your lordship will give me leave to serve notice for Saturday I will not press now for an official liquidator.—The Court declined to interfere, and refused the application.

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