Company with alleged mafia links bought Glasgow firm 4

Company with alleged mafia links bought Glasgow firm

A company in Glasgow has been bought by a firm headquartered in Luxembourg which is fighting allegations of links to the Italian mafia, The Ferret can reveal.

Mono Consultants – one of the UK’s largest telecoms network infrastructure service providers – was taken over recently by Solutions 30 SE after going into administration.

Mono Consultants operates throughout the UK and has a presence in Glasgow, Manchester and Milton Keynes. The company works with major operators including Telefonica and BT/EE, as well as telecom equipment manufacturers such as Ericsson.

Solutions 30 bought Mono Consultants last October through its UK branch, Solutions 30 UK. Established in 1997, Mono Consultants employs 165 people in Glasgow and those jobs were saved through the takeover.

Over the past two years Solutions 30 has been embroiled in controversy over its past relationship with an accountant who reportedly did prison time for links to the Sicilian mafia. 

Solutions 30 cut ties with the accountant but the company has been publicly targeted by a US investor called Muddy Waters Capital, which pointed to anonymous report making allegations regarding organised crime and money laundering. 

Solutions 30 strongly denies those claims and told The Ferret it has been “fighting against a violent destabilization campaign”. 

Founded in 2003, Solutions 30 works in telecommunications, IT, security, energy, and retail and is listed on the Paris stock exchange. The firm has 15,700 service engineers in nine European countries. 

Announcing the acquisition of Mono Consultants last October Solutions 30 said Mono’s revenues had been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis and fallen from £41.5m in 2020 to £27.8m in 2021. But there was “strong growth potential for the 2021-22 financial year” Solutions 30 added. Mono Consultant’s 165 staff were transferred to the new owners under the deal.

Solutions 30 SE has been fighting against a violent destabilization campaign in the Paris stock-exchange, perpetrated by activist short sellers on the basis of an anonymous report.

Solutions 30 Spokesperson

Solutions 30 has been embroiled in a public spat with Muddy Waters, a short seller based in America. Short selling is an investment strategy that speculates on the decline in the price of a stock. Muddy Waters has been betting against Solutions 30’s stock since May 2019.

In December 2020 an anonymous report emerged alleging Solutions 30 was linked to organised crime. Solutions 30 responded then and said it “categorically denies all statements in the report”. Shortly afterwards shares in Solutions 30 plunged almost 40 per cent after Muddy Waters publicly questioned the company. 

Concerns were later raised about Solution 30 when it emerged last May that Ernst and Young (EY)  had refused to sign off the firm’s 2020 accounts after the publication of its annual report. Solutions 30 told The Ferret it “strongly disagrees” with EY.

In April 2021 it emerged a Romanian firm called Solutions 30 Eastern Europe, linked to Solutions 30, had taken legal action against Muddy Waters, alleging it was behind the anonymous report. The US legal case was Solutions 30 Eastern Europe (EE) v Muddy Waters Capital LLC. 

Muddy Waters denied authoring the anonymous report. Muddy Waters told The Ferret: “It’s obvious to us that EY (Ernst and Young) found serious issues in its audit of Solutions 30’s 2020 financial statements.” 

A spokesperson for Solutions 30 told The Ferret: “In the first half of 2021, Solutions 30 SE has been fighting against a violent destabilization campaign in the Paris stock-exchange, perpetrated by activist short sellers on the basis of an anonymous report.

“All of the allegations that the report contains have been dismissed by two independent audits mandated by Solutions 30’s supervisory board.”

The spokesperson added that Solutions 30 has filed two complaints about the “dissemination of false and misleading information and market manipulation” respectively, to the French stock exchange regulator (AMF), and to the French national financial prosecutor’s office – regarding the anonymous report.

Company complaints investigated

Another complaint for defamation against Muddy Waters has been filed to a Paris court, the spokesperson said, adding that these complaints are still being investigated. 

The spokeperson continued: “In the context of this attack, the company’s former statutory auditor, EY, has informed the company and its shareholders that it was unable to issue an opinion on the company’s 2020 financials.

It is important to emphasize that Solutions 30 has obtained clean audit reports without any remarks or reservations every single year since its creation in 2003, including from EY for the 2019 annual financials and for the 2020 half year financials. 

“We strongly disagree with the position of EY and so do our shareholders as they approved the consolidated 2020 financial statements of Solutions 30 SE during the company’s annual general meeting that was held on 30 June 2021. A new statutory auditor was appointed during the same annual general meeting.

“During the summer, the group’s new auditor carried out extensive review and procedures on the opening balance sheet at January 1, 2021 in accordance with IFRS professional standards. The review of the opening balance sheet, as well as the review of the 1st half 2021 financials, did not reveal any misstatement. 

“Our 2020 financial statements have been audited by various firms over several tens of thousands of hours and no misstatement was revealed. The acquisition of the assets of Mono Consultants was completed in October 2021 with the support of all our banking partners, customers of both Mono Consultants and Solutions 30 and Mono’s management team.

Mono Consultants has gone through difficult times due to the covid situation and now, the company and its 165 employees have opened a new chapter in their development thanks to their integration into our group.”

In December 2020 Solutions 30 announced it had bought Comvergent Holdings Limited, based in England. Comvergent recently won a £1.5bn contract to provide services at Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army sites across the UK.

Mono Consultants was asked to comment but did not respond.

Commenting last October after being bought by Solutions 30, Mono Consultants said: “Joining the Solutions 30 group provides us with the strength and depth we need to develop the business and be at the forefront of our customer’s deployment plans in the UK.

“It provides access to the group’s broad skills and expertise from different sectors as well as the working capital needed to fund our growth ambitions. The combined capability of Comvergent and Mono will make Solutions 30 a leading player across all four mobile networks in the UK.”

Photo Credit: Kazuma Seki

This piece was published in tandem with the Herald.

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