A Dublin company legally owned by a retired accountant and his wife and linked to British celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, was receiving payments of £1 million (€1.2 million) a year from a high-end Australian restaurant that has now collapsed owing millions to its workers.
The Cabinteely, Dublin 18 company, Bacon & Egg Ice Cream Ltd, held intellectual property rights linked to the Dinner by Heston Blumenthal restaurant, in Melbourne, Australia.
The Dublin company, which is named after one of Mr Blumenthal's signature recipes, is owned by retired Dublin accountant, Roger Copsey and his wife, Pauline, according to filings in the Companies Registration Office.
The company is “primarily engaged in the exploitation of intellectual property rights”, according to the notes to its accounts.
The Australian restaurant has now collapsed, with a creditors report stating that the major financial issue confronting the business was the “underpayment of employee entitlements over a period of four years from commencement of business until circa June 2019, when the employment arrangements were changed to comply with employment legislation”.
The business owes its workers 4.4 million Australian dollars (€2.7 million), with most of that arising from the historical underpayment of its employees.
Yet since its inception the venture involved intellectual property obligations of £1 million being paid, each year, in advance, to Bacon & Egg Ice Cream, according to the creditors report. It is understood that the company is in fact part of a corporate structure linked to the UK and Australian restaurants that use the Blumenthal name, with the group having its ultimate parent company, the Lowenthal Corporation, in the Isle of Man.
It is understood Mr Blumenthal is not a shareholder in the corporate structure behind the restaurants that bear his name.
A request last week for a comment from the Dinner by Heston group in London, met with no response. Efforts to contact Mr Copsey were not successful.
The accounts for the Dublin company show that in 2013 it took on ownership of intangible assets of €8.7 million, the value of which has since decreased year-on-year. As of 2018 the intangible assets were worth €1.4 million.
The directors, who are Mr Copsey and his wife, were paid €30,000 during 2018, the most recent year for which accounts are filed, and the company had no other employees. The company had accumulated losses of €1.4 million at the end of 2018.
Ireland has very generous provisions allowing for the non-payment of tax on income arising from intellectual property which is being written down in value.
The Australian creditors report shows how the Melbourne joint-venture business involved a range of companies with Tipsy Cake Pty Ltd, trading as Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, being a company from the St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, that was registered as a foreign company in Australia.
Mr Blumenthal's Berkshire restaurant, the Fat Duck, is one of only five restaurants in Britain with three Michelin stars. In 2005, it was voted the world's best restaurant.
Last week Masterchef Australia confirmed that Mr Blumenthal, who has featured on the TV programme in previous seasons, would not be taking part in its upcoming series.