FINANCIAL dealings involving a new company thought to have been set up to run Watchet Marina if Somerset Council agrees a 200-year lease have become shrouded in secrecy.

The council is negotiating with current marina operator Christopher Odling-Smee despite four marinas he owns in Wales all being forced into administration.

Danish-British dual national Mr Odling-Smee, who lives in Switzerland, has a string of other failed companies behind him, including Watchet Marina’s parent company The Marine and Property Group (MPG).

MPG went into administration on April 25 last year with estimated £16 million debts and £2 million in assets.

Three days later, Mr Odling-Smee set up a new company, The Marine Group Holdings Ltd (MGH), with himself as sole director and which distributed 1,000 shares at £1 each among nine shareholders, including himself.

Then, on February 9 this year Mr Odling-Smee confirmed to Companies House the MGH shares had been transferred to COS Investments SARL, believed to be registered in Luxembourg, where corporate finance information is largely kept secret.

Over the following three days, February 10, 11, and 12, Mr Odling-Smee registered three more UK firms with Companies House - W Marina Ltd, BP Marina Ltd, and PD Marina Ltd.

The ‘W’ was thought to represent Watchet, and ‘BP’ and ‘PD’ Burry Port and Port Dinorwic, which are two of the Welsh marinas in administration.

All three listed Mr Odling-Smee as sole director and MGH as having ‘significant control’ over their affairs.

Mr Odling-Smee refuses to comment on Free Press articles.