A FAT-CAT boss who sacked his staff by text message when his compensation firm went bust has been tracked down to Marbella.
Inland Revenue investigators hit Accident Group boss Mark Langford and his wife Debbie with writs totalling £4.1 million as they got onto their luxury yacht in Puerto Banus marina at the weekend.
In dramatic fashion, a bailiff slapped writs into both their hands, as they turned up at their £1.5 million boat.
The pair had been preparing a lavish birthday party for their daughter on the 80-foot Ferretti yacht, when the British bondsman ran over.
‘It was very embarrassing for them,’ said one onlooker. ‘The bailiff got Langford as he walked up the gangplank in front of dozens of tourists.
‘He went completely grey and his legs almost buckled.
‘He was furious and tried to snatch the writ out of the bailiff’s hand.
“And then when his wife refused to get off, the bailiff threatened to shout out the contents of the demand to the whole port. You should see how quickly she ran off the boat to get it.”
The moves complete a year-long investigation to trace money lost when the Accident Group went bust in 2003.
Langford and his wife have been spending most of their time in Spain since the “no win, no fee” company went under with £100m debts in 2003.
It was reported to have laid off its 2,700 employees by text message.
According to an Inland Revenue source, the tax authorities have put the couple at ‘the top of their list’ to track down this year.
‘We have spent half our budget on finding these two,’ said the source. ‘We want to recoup some of that money badly.’
‘Liquidators have already frozen the assets of the pair as they try to trace millions of pounds that went missing when the company collapsed.
The source said they were particularly interested in any proceeds made from the sale of assets in Spain, including the yacht or a £1.5 million house, which they own in Marbella.
The writs which are for £1.7 million for Langford and £2.4 million for his wife, are due to have a hearing in March at Manchester Crown Court, according to the revenue source.
Sources however told the Olive Press that the house has recently been sold for just under two million euros.
“It was sold to Ukranians or Russians three days before Christmas,” said a friend of the couple. “They have been desperate to sell it for well over a year.”
She added that the Langfords have been leasing a mansion in the exclusive Zagaleta estate between Ronda and Marbella and an apartment in an urbanisation called Monte Halcones.
A local investigator Gwilym Rhys-Jones, from the Costa del Sol Action Group confirmed the sale saying: ‘A contact of mine had to meet them recently to sort out a sale of their house in Las Brisas. He told me that if you are looking for Mark Langford now, you might try La Zagaleta.
‘He is a property advisor and on one occasion he said he had to meet with Debbie Langford to collect some keys for my client who eventually bought the villa in Las Brisas. He met her at the BP petrol station on the Ronda road and told him she and her husband were now living at Zagaleta. Whether they are renting or have purchased I don’t know.’
Their former palace was certainly empty when visited last week. Lights were off, there was no furniture and a skip with stripped out kitchen furniture was sitting outside the front door.
A neighbour confirmed that the couple had moved out ‘ages ago’ and the house was sold.
It also appeared that the Langfords have managed to sell their yacht. While a For Sale sign is still stuck on the back, a salesman for the company Ventura, which manages the harbour’s yachts and is handling the sale revealed that a deposit had been paid.
The agent said that the yacht, which was for sale at 1.75 million euros, is ‘under offer’.
‘A deposit has been paid at quite a low price and the new owners want to remarket the boat. The owner Mark Langford was very keen to get out and it has gone for something of a firesale.’
The news will be of great interest to the Inland Revenue. The source said ‘If true then we are going to be looking particularly closely at where the money has gone. We will get our money somehow.’
The couple are already under pressure to explain how the company collapsed just months after they took millions in dividends out of the firm.
They are currently fighting against an action by the Department of Trade and Industry to disqualify them from holding company directorships.
A High Court judge in Leedsset Langford a weekly spending limit last year as the pair come under increasing pressure to explain how the company folded owing around £100million.
His wife Debbie has reportedly already been ordered to pay nearly £400,000 to liquidators after they claimed she took dividends from the company improperly and breached her duty as director.
Despite putting their British home on the market for £3.75 million in December, reports suggest that it is unlikely that any of the money will go to creditors of TAG as it was a limited company.
The couple have been spending most of the last few years living in Marbella, where their children go to school.
Leading an enviable lifestyle, they are regularly seen in the port on their boat.