May 07 2005

Steel Monkeys, having gone bust in Scotland, pops up in Minsk


STEEL Monkeys, a former mainstay of Scotland's battered computer games industry, has been reborn in Belarus - less than a year after the UK firm of the same name went bust, leaving 30 Glasgow staff owed un-paid wages and creditors nursing losses of ?500,000.

However, Derek McLennan, the defunct Glasgow developer's former managing director, stressed that he does not own a stake in the Minsk business.

It is apparently run by Tim Dvoskin, the liquidated Scottish company's former business development director.

Dvoskin, a gaming enthusiast from Russia, is thought to have invested about half the ?500,000 used to start up Steel Monkeys in 1998.

McLennan is listed on the new website as the firm's UK contact, operating from an office suite in Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

Speaking yesterday, however, he said this is merely a consultancy appointment, which he was asked to take on recently. McLennan said he works full-time in an entirely separate business.

One embittered ex-staffer in Glasgow was unimpressed. He said: "Derek McLennan seems to have landed on his feet, apparently having started afresh using essentially the same company name, citing all the old company's projects as "history" for the new one, and apparently relying on all the old company's intellectual property.

"All only a few months after going into receivership without paying creditors, including employees wages."

The new steelmonkeys website records that a foreign company, Steel Monkeys (Belarus) was set up in Minsk in May 2004, where the UK business already had an office.

"From this date, a strategic decision was taken to move the company's main game development operations to Belarus, with a smaller representative office remaining in the UK," the site adds.

The UK firm collapsed into liquidation two months later - a fact not recorded on the website - leaving debts of ?500,000. Staff - owed at least two weeks' wages - had to rely on statutory redundancy compensation.

Kenneth Craig, the company's liquidator, said at the time that remaining assets were sold off before his appointment.

McLennan added yesterday: "Everything which took place with the receiver (sic) was above board and done perfectly legally : I have nothing to hide."

Steel Monkeys, set up by brothers Derek, Andrew and Gordon McLennan, was once one of the Scottish computer games industry's brightest prospects. It claimed profitability until 2002, when it was hit by the collapse of Liverpool software house Rage.