Asked about a company called M to M Ltd, McDonald replied that this “was part of Daniel’s wider plans”. She was acting under instructions from others in the company and in December 2009 had no concerns over the company’s credibility. Bailey asked her about a series of duplicate invoices – one showing payments required for cars, rents etc. with a second one for wine for the same amount. McDonald said that she had not seen the invoices for wine. She had no idea who had put the second invoices into the file but that these invoices could have been filed by other people in the office.
At the end of January 2010 McDonald decided that she could no longer continue to work for Finbow and on 29th January sent a letter to Paul Rees, then Finbow’s director, saying she was resigning with immediate effect but would work out her one month notice period. She was no longer able to work with the floor manager (Billy Davies). ‘It had been a real pleasure working with you’ (Rees).McDonald explained that she was not comfortable with the amount of money going out of the company. “I was spending more time in the bank than in the office. It was impossible to keep on top of it. Billy Davies was running the show. She had not spoken to Daniel because he was stepping back from the company.McDonald was then questioned by Simon Dempsey’s counsel. Her previous employment had been with KPMG where she had worked for 14 years as a PA to one of the senior partners managing his diary. She was line manger for support staff. There was no accountancy involved. She earned £34,000 a year. At Nouveau/Finbow her salary was £30,000.
In January 2010 large amounts of cash were going out Finbow. “Money was being spent like it was going out of fashion….so much cash was going out”. Back in October she hadn’t questioned it because there was “a lot of money coming in”. “The month to month bills were being covered.” In January 2010 much more cash was going out of the company than was coming in. McDonald became concerned – “this is not right”.
McDonald explained that she started at Nouveau in September 2008 to help Dina Snelling with the admin. At the time “there were no records to speak of – no proper paperwork in place”. Her job was to sort out the paperwork. She shared an office with Dina Snelling and had a chat with Dina about recordkeeping but no detailed discussion. McDonald dealt with the paperwork that was there. She did not deal with records of how much wine was bought and had nothing to do with the stock of wine. McDonald set up a system for recording investors’ purchases.
Christopher asked her about the CIB (Companies Investigation Branch) investigation by Mr Streeter in March and April 2009. He suggested that the records had been created to answer Streeter’s questions about how much wine had been bought by investors and how much had been purchased by the company. Rather than being created in September 2008, they were created in March 2009. McDonald said that this was not correct. She had set up the system in September 2008 and that it was a work in progress. There was reference to a document that post-dated Streeter’s investigation but McDonald agreed that an earlier version would have been shown to him. Christopher asked why only clients with surnames A-K were recorded and that for many investors listed the column referring to stock in Winevaults was blank. McDonald did not know. She didn’t think that she had put those columns into the document and after she had created the template she had passed it over to Dina for it to be kept up to date. Christopher also asked her why the filing system adopted was so cumbersome for new names of investors.
During Streeter’s investigation she had asked Daniel Snelling for details of inventory at Winevaults but he did not produce it. Only a few big investors had their own accounts at Winevaults. The rest of the wine was in the Nouveau World Wines account at Winevaults. When Daniel Snelling returned from Australia in early May 2009 he said that he had been shafted and that only half the wine that Nouveau World Wines had ordered had actually been purchased. McDonald said she believed that Daniel was referring to Sultan Trad here.She had no dealings with the Global Wine invoices. Dina Snelling’s evidence was that Becky had been involved. She had no dealings with Riddingtons (accountants in Sidcup), over wine stocks – Daniel Snelling handled this.
On the advice of Riddingtons Nouveau World Wine was put into liquidation. McDonald explained that Finbow was always part of Daniel’s plans. Although Simon Dempsey was the director, it was Daniel’s company. He was running the company and owned it. The advice from Riddingtons was that Daniel Snelling might to barred as a director because of what had happened to Nouveau World Wines.
Use of false namesWhen Finbow was starting up McDonald was asked to change the name she used in the office in order to hide the connection with Nouveau World Wines - not to link Finbow and Nouveau.
She declined to use a false name but did use her second name Louise rather than Rebecca. Others in the company did change their false names for the changeover from Nouveau to Finbow. Michael Lancaster (Michael Snelling) became Michael Jones. Lucy Jones (Dina Snelling) became Harriet Harbridge, while Daniel Snelling was known as Aston. McDonald said the use of false names did not concern her - she was used to the traders using them. Christopher asked whether Dina Snelling was an opener at Finbow. He remarked that Dina Snelling had kept the name Lucy Jones during the time of Nouveau World Wines for the sake of 'consistency'. Now the change of name was to "avoid consistency".