Jon Hirst

Jon Hirst (Jonathan Philip Hirst; aka John Philip Hirst)


Jonathan Phillip Hirst was born 2 February 1979 in Manchester.  Companies House & Company Check records show him using his full name and two shortened versions:

Jonathan Philip HIRST

John Philip HIRST

Jonathan HIRST

At the time of writing(September 2021), Hirst has resigned from 65 limited companies and LLPs which were still active, and held 38 appointments at dissolved companies and LLPs. He is registered as holding 4 current appointments.  Roles associated with Hirst within the recorded businesses include: Company Secretary, Director, LLP Designated Member.

Many of the companies of which Hirst was an officer were incorporated together as a group of companies with the same directors – the SA Film Group (2008-9), the EOS Game group (2008-11), and the Triton group (2008-13/14).  Some of these groups seem to share similar modus operandi.  First, several companies within the group grant registered charges, in most cases from Alliance & Leicester PLC, presumably to secure financing provided to group entities.  Next a high number of shares (7,999,998 per company in one group) of nominal value 1p each were issued, allotted and sold for £1 each.  The names of the companies were often changed, making it more difficult to follow the original incorporation and participation of a large group.  Finally, just a few years after incorporation, the companies become dormant and are subject to voluntary strike-off applications and dissolved, leaving the charge registrations outstanding and the status of the financing unknown (although presumably fully repaid in order to be a permitted voluntary strike-off).

One of Hirst’s fellow directors at SA Film was Peter Hoffman.  He was the founder of Seven Arts Entertainment, and in 2015 was convicted of film tax fraud in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wikipedia includes an article referring to Hoffman’s UK businesses “Seven Arts Pictures also has trading entities in the UK which have been put into liquidation owing investors millions of dollars. {…}  Seven Arts had been implicated in major fraud by HMRC and also by many investors, claiming that Peter Hoffman’s daughter is behind the many scams in the UK. [ Financial Times,  7 January 2016 ,paywall]” 

Hirst was also involved in the Zeus Capital HMRC case.  Hirst and nine others (including Zeus Capital founder Richard Hughes, former take-over adviser to, and shareholder in, Glasgow Rangers FC) were accused in 2015 of “cheating the Revenue” over the Zeus Partners film scheme, which was sold to 165 moneyed clients, including hedge fund tycoon Hugh Sloane and former Tesco finance chief Laurie McIlwee. 

The scheme gave the Zeus Partners’ 165 investors the opportunity to buy films and library content from US motion picture firm Seven Arts Entertainment.  If the films were successful at the box office, investors would double their money. If they did badly, investors could write off the cost against their other income and claim tax relief. For example, an investor who spent £160,000 could then borrow a further £840,000 and claim tax relief on the total £1m.  The potential relief could be between £400,000 and £500,000.

Charges against Hirst were dropped in 2016, following the collapse of the case, reportedly due to failures by the CPS (& HMRC?)

The Herald Scotland

The Business Desk

Companies House

Hirst, ADBD and CAFC

It does therefore seem odd that Hirst chose to highlight his involvement with the Zeus Group in his “biography” on the ADBD website where his role was described on the now defunct 2019-20 version as follows:

John Hirst – Managing Director

Following a successful career in the city of London with Invicta Capital, John was one of the founding partners of Zeus Partners LLP, which became one of the most successful corporate finance and fund-raising groups in the UK.  He led and structured debt raisings, public offerings and private placements to the value of many billions of pounds and as such became a director of 48 separate companies during his tenure.

John now works on large, complex pan-global transactions with multiple governments at very senior levels.  His negotiations involve sovereign funds, multi-varied global institutions, prestigious family offices and major Middle Eastern families.

In addition to his role as Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Business Development, John is a main board director of VST Enterprises, a multi award winning UK Tech firm, which has contacts with the UN as well as several governments.  John also holds Advisory Board positions in several other companies.”  

[Interestingly, there is no mention of Hirst in the Companies House records of VST Enterprises.]

Hirst also appears on two earlier versions of the ADBD website

June 8th 2014 Gascoine, Alexander, Wright, Nemer, Hirst, Freeman, Vernekar, van Seventer, Zetterstrom, McQillan are listed on this version from 2014.  This may be when the original website was developed as there are no Wayback machine snapshots before 2014. The picture of John Hirst is clearly incorrect; it is showing Chris Gascoine.
19th August 2014 Nemer, Al-Maamari, Gascoine, van Seventer, Alexander, Nangle, Verekar, Wright, Freeman, McQuillan, Zetterstrom
16th August 2015 Nemer, Al-Maamari, Gascoine, van Seventer, Alexander, Nangle, Wright, McQuillan, Zetterstrom Seren Zetterstrom went on to marry Jacco van Seventer
15th October 2016 Tahnoon Nemer (Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE),  Sultan Al-Maamari (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Chris Gascoine (Notts, UK), Nick Alexander (London, UK), Jacco van Seventer (Cheshire, UK), Bipin Vernekar (India),  Colin Wright (Australia), Sally Mcquillan (Notts UK), HR
27th May 2018 Chris Gascoine (Director Real Estate, Planning, Property investment, Projects) Tahnoon Nemer (Director Abu Dhabi Relations, Projects, Recruitment services) Jacco van Seventer (Director Commodities, Planning, Projects) Thomas Campbell (Director Commodities, Projects, Planning) Nick Alexander (Commodities, Finance, Planning, Funds), John Hirst (Commodities, Finance, Planning, Investments, Structures)

It was this association with ADBD, which dated back to at least 2014, which connected Hirst to Nimer and van Seventer.  It is also believed that Hirst has known Southall since about 2010, and introduced Southall to van Seventer in August 2019.  Interestingly, Southall has claimed to have been involved in some undefined way with the change of ownership of CAFC in 2010.  Hirst and Southall; two Manchester men with business interests in London?  Perhaps they met on the train!

Following ESI’s takeover of CAFC, Southall ordered on CAFC’s account high spec cars for the use of himself and various advisors, consultants, etc.  One of these, a Range Rover SVR (value £99k), is believed to have been handed over to Hirst, along with a credit card for expenses.  Hirst was seen attending matches, and was photographed with Nimer and others outside the O2 on 4th February 2020, during Nimer’s visit to Charlton.

After the early March fall-out between Nimer and Southall, extracts from the accounts were leaked and shared on social media, including this: 

09/01/2020Car Payment£1,659.00  (with £40k balloon payment)
09/02/2020Car Payment£1,659.00
09/02/2020 Car Insurance£167.00
Car Services£232.00
Parking Fines£100.00
Hotel & Travel Costs£3,300.00
Claimed Expenses£2,643.00
Claimed & Paid Expenses£2,241.00
Credit Card Expense (Suspended)£35.00

It is unclear what Hirst brought to the table at CAFC to justify these perks.  Possibly he was to use his business experience of selling film investments, and adapt it to selling shares in the rumoured “property play” planned for The Valley?  This scheme was mentioned in March 2020 in a Romanian newspaper article about the ESI takeover, including a picture of a mock-up of the proposed new stadium on Greenwich Peninsula.  Further images of what were claimed to be pages from the prospectus being shown to potential investors were later leaked on social media. [IMAGES 011 – 017] It appears to be an updated version of a plan formulated c.2013 by former owner Tony Jimenez, and is strongly rumoured to have been in use by Southall in January 2020.