Fenty goes: why now?

Cod Almighty | Article

by Tony Butcher

5 May 2021

There has been a question over John Fenty's tax affairs since he sold Five Star Fish in 2004. Tony notes the coincidence with him selling his interest in Grimsby Town

It’s morning again in Grimsby.

Positive John, The Fridge Magnate, Fentycon, (Ex) Top Con John, the Toytown Trump: choose your epithet for that cold, dead hand of small town, small-minded incompetence that has hung over our club and has finally been cast out from our lands.

But has anyone wondered why, and why now?

We cannot know what is in that man's mind, what is his true motivation for scarpering; all we can do is identify what facts and factors are in the public domain. Read on and draw your own conclusions.

Let's have a little recap:

  • Fenty's wealth derives from the sale of Five Star Fish in 2004.
  • He didn't pay the tax due from that windfall; this tax debt was left in one of his companies. We know this because he confirmed it in his eventual response to the liquidator of the company that had traded as Five Star Fish. This was part of a tax avoidance scheme.
  • In 2009 the taxmen sought all their dough while he was in his stately home down Humberston Avenue.
  • He challenged this, but six years later he liquidated the dormant company that had been Five Star Fish in which over £1m of tax was owed.
  • The liquidator he appointed was then replaced by one the taxman chose, and this new liquidator challenged an asset write-off of £610,032.
  • John Fenty couldn't remember what this asset was but did know it wasn't worth anything. The liquidator is still pursuing this asset.

Last year Fenty finally reconciled himself to paying the tax from the sale of Five Star Fish. We also know he was in discussions to sell his shares in Grimsby Town

That was the position as I described it in December last year. Since then, in February 2021, the liquidator's yearly report was published, stating that "(between May 2019 and May 2020) and whilst the claim was being pursued by solicitors, the director (ie JS Fenty) expressed an interest in settling his debts with HMRC".


Yes, it's that tax case again. Last year John Shelton Fenty finally reconciled himself to having to pay the tax on his windfall profits from the sale of Five Star Fish. Only 17 years after the event. We know from his own statements and that of convicted fraudster Alick Kapikanya – now known as Alex May – that he was in discussions from 2019 to sell his shares in Grimsby Town. Put these two things together and we have a man in need of cash and that same man seeking to realise cash from the sale of Grimsby Town.

Let’s look at the numbers shall we?

The amount of tax claimed is at least £1.17m (per claims submitted by HMRC in the former Five Star Fish as at 2015). The amount sought by the liquidator for the mysterious asset written off just before John Fenty liquidated the former Five Star Fish would be at least £610,032. That's £1.78m in total, which doesn't include statutory interest, penalties and legal costs in dealing/fighting the claims.

By selling his interest in Grimsby Town, John Shelton Fenty will receive £975,000 for his shares and £1.5m for the repayment of "benign" loans. That's £2.475m before any legal and other costs that he will bear. That may look like he’s got £700,000 to spare, but the costs of avoiding tax for 17 years – together with a botched "tame" liquidation - will have eaten into that. And you and I will have the satisfaction of knowing that the taxman got him in the end.

All this information has been publicly available for years, hidden in plain sight, and was drawn to the attention of the local media a couple of years ago. But he's gone now, so all's well that ends well.