A DRAGONS’ Den scientist has demanded expat truffle farmer Wendy Smart remove all traces of his name and company from her marketing material.
Since the Olive Press’ investigation into her unpaid debts last issue, many more angry expats – mostly Ronda-based – have added their complaints to the growing pile.
Investors in Smart’s plantation, in Valencia, are concerned about the state of her plantation and the future of its oak trees, casting doubts that they will ever see a return on their money.
“Due to the volume of accusations aimed at Wendy, we do not want our name associated with the project,” said Dr Thomas, who appeared on the UK TV show with his innovative truffle inoculation methods in 2006.
“We invested heavily. This included discounted trees in return for a share of the business and a lot of time, analytical testing and consultancy.
“A very large number of the trees we supplied, below cost price, were sold on – without our authorisation – for a profit. We are still owed these,” he added.
Smart’s Europe Truffles website was initially taken offline, but has since reappeared with Dr Thomas still featured.
Former horse breeder and life coach Smart stands accused of a trail of unpaid debts, including €56,000 to former management consultant Trevor Suter.
An action group of shareholders in her company Parkview – led by Smart’s former colleague Roger Wallis – has begun discussing a possible succession plan.
While a sacked worker, Jose Alfonso Roda, told the Olive Press he too has never been paid for his services on the plantation.
The Spanish labourer, who was in charge of irrigation, is still owed around €10,000 for four months work.
Expat Andrew Robb contacted the Olive Press with a similar tale, warning against ‘all kind of excuses she made not to pay us’.
“The usual lines from her have been heard before by myself and many others, wherever she goes it’s the same old story and people in Valencia need to be warned,” said Robb, another former employee.
Another expat victim, builder James Bond, claims he and two other labourers are owed €10,000 by Smart for work in 2007 and 2008. “Every time we asked for payment she promised us a stake in her truffle farm,” he told the Olive Press.
“The reason she left Ronda was that she ripped off so many people.”