London: Chief Monetary Officer fired for telling bosses they had been broke

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Sam Williams (not pictured) was abused for trying to warn his bosses about the risks they were taking (Archive Photo: Getty)

A finance director was fired for trying to sound the alarm that his company appeared to be going broke and acting illegally.

Sam Williams then sued for wrongful dismissal and was awarded £754,380 in compensation for the way he was treated at ABP (London) Investment.

The manager, then 58, alarmed bosses when he received a £11,628 bill to insure a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce.

He emailed CEO Ying Xu and said, “If we don’t know where the money is coming from, we can’t commit to these expenses because we already owe too much money.

“Honestly, we don’t have the resources to run the business.”

The Labor Court in London was told that Mr Williams believed this was a “very serious matter for the directors”.

He warned they were likely to be in breach of insolvency laws – by being unable to pay off their debts – and at risk of unlawful and fraudulent trading in the UK.

The company was threatened with illegal trading – against bankruptcy law (Image: Getty)

As suppliers began taking legal action to collect their money, Mr Williams tried again to warn his boss.

He sent an email saying: “I believe there is a very real danger now [company] trades while in bankruptcy and that the Company’s directors are directly exposed to the effects of unlawful and/or fraudulent trading.

“With that comes the direct risk of civil and criminal penalties.”

Finally, in February 2020, Chairman Wei Ping Xu told Mr. Williams that he wanted him to leave the company.

But Mr Williams stayed – until he felt like reporting danger again in April this year.

He told senior managers the firm owed creditors more than £3m but had less than £300,000 in the bank.

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During that time, Mr Williams was “undermined” and “detrimentally treated” for whistleblowing, labor judge Carol Porter noted.

She said: “He was disfellowshipped and prevented from doing his job, including dealing with his team. Other people were asked to fill his role, but they did poorly.

“As finance director, he had to deal with a flood of correspondence and complaints from suppliers who, as finance director, held (him) responsible for their unpaid invoices.

‘He was embarrassed and humiliated both personally and professionally [company] and the broader London property industry (which is relatively small in London and the South East) because of the unfavorable treatment and dismissal.’

Mr Williams was sacked in September 2020 which had a significant impact on him and left him feeling “hurt”.

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The court heard he had trouble sleeping and his relationship with his partner was “strained”.

“Ultimately, the release caused him significant stress and anxiety,” the judge said.

He added that “Mr Williams had begun to wonder about his own sanity and suffered a loss of confidence”.

ABP was ordered to pay £754,000 – nearly £200,000 for future loss of earnings, £27,000 for hurt feelings and £25,000 in increased damages for the way it had conducted the court case.

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