Feb 8 2013 by Craig Robertson, Kilmarnock Standard
A debt collection agency is being pursued over a £2000 unpaid bill after closing down amid the resignation of a director.
A “wanted” poster featuring a picture of former boss Stephanie Fraser was put up outside the offices of Mercantile Recovery Solutions in Kilmarnock in a bid to recover the debt.
Records from Companies House show she resigned from her directorship on January 23 – just days after it closed and paid off up to 20 staff on January 18.
Mercantile has now being taken over by a Bradford-based firm called Motormile Finance UK Limited although they have not plans to reopen the Kilmarnock base.
It came just months after Sheriff Officers raided their offices above the Clydesdale Bank at the Foregate, taking documents and copying hard drives in relation to a court order.
Yesterday Ms Fraser’s legal team wouldn’t say what that was for but denied it was in connection with an ongoing legal case involving Paul MacKenzie who’s the former owner of another Kilmarnock debt collection agency, the MacKenzie Hall Group.
Mr MacKenzie – who recently celebrated the birth of a son with Ms Fraser – sold the firm last year to American group, Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA), for £33.5 million but is now facing court action from the new owners.
He was kept on as a director by PRA after the sale but resigned in September.
Ms Fraser is a former employee of MacKenzie Hall but left to set up Mercantile last May.
Trouble at Mercantile stretches back to November 7 when its offices, above Clydesdale Bank at the Foregate, were raided by Sheriff Officers.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that police officers were also there to ensure public safety.
And a former member of staff told the Standard: “It was a shock to see the Sheriff Officers. They copied hard drives and left but we never heard any more about it until being told not to come on January 18.”
Kilmarnock businessman David Milne who runs the Minuteman Press on John Finnie Street put up the wanted-style posters on Tuesday in a last-gasp bid to recover the £2,000 owed since October for printing 40,000 letter heads.
He said: “I’ve contacted Mercantile constantly but have heard nothing at all.
“As a frachisee I have to pay royalities to Minuteman but if I don’t get paid I’m out of pocket.
“I’d done work for MacKenzie Hall and been paid and thought Mercantile would pay as well.
“These posters are just to embarrass her into doing something but it’s a bit ironic that I’m chasing debt collectors for money.”
Ms Fraser, 29, wasn’t available for interview at her home in Galston on Wednesday morning.
But a statement was later released by her solicitor which stated: “My client was not part of any proceedings for interdict which were commenced against Mr MacKenzie.
“During November last year, in separate civil proceedings, an order was granted at the Court of Session which allowed the recovery of documents, items and copying of certain electronic communications from Mercantile Recovery Solutions’ offices. “This was carried out by two Advocates appointed by the court for this purpose. Our client co-operated fully with this process. Our client did not require to defend these preliminary proceedings and no further proceedings have been taken against her.
“As both myself and my client have advised in earlier communication Mercantile Recovery Solutions Limited was taken over on January 18, by Motormile Finance UK Limited and therefore it is inappropriate that my client makes any comment in regard to the position of employees of the company.”
Records show that on the same day Ms Fraser’s directorship was termininated, a Barnaby Page, was appointed a director.
The 43-year-old of Huddersfield is also listed as the director of a debt-purchase finance firm called Motormile Finance UK Limited which now runs Mercantile.
He said: “Motormile recently purchased the shares in Mercantile Recovery Solutions Ltd from Stephanie Fraser.
“Mercantile remains the company liable for the account in question (Minuteman) and, indeed, all of Mercantile’s outstanding liabilities.
“Motormile is, however, assessing the position of Mercantile with a view to dealing with its outstanding liabilities.
“This is one of a number of invoices we will be assessing this week, with a view to dealing with next week.”