Tradewind Voyages owner says staff who are owed wages should ‘claim benefits’

By Neal Baldwin
Home » Tradewind Voyages owner says staff who are owed wages should ‘claim benefits’

The multimillionaire owner of tall-ship operator Tradewind Voyages has said staff left out of pocket by the firm’s demise should ‘claim benefits’.

Croatian boss Tomislav Debeljak – who is registered as Tradewind’s only director and is president of its ultimate parent company DIV Group – made his astonishing claim in response to negative media coverage of his string of UK debts.

After significant detective work, ex-Tradewind Marketing Manager Maddie Taylor managed to force Mr Debejak into a telephone conversation last week.

Last month, Travel Gossip reported that new mum Maddie is being chased for unpaid bills and fears she’ll lose her house because she – and 15 other ex-Tradewind staff – haven’t been paid for months of work.

She is owed around £15,000 in unpaid wages and maternity pay, but was staggered by what she heard.

She told Travel Gossip: “He came on the line and sounded at first like he was going to help, saying he would pay me from his own pocket but he clearly thought I was just a weak young mum he could push around.

“He said I should have claimed benefits, then brushed off that he owes anyone money.

“He had the audacity to say ‘you have all of your life in-front of you, be happy and in love’.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – it’s not every day you get to speak to a millionaire who is lying through their teeth.”

Maddie’s brief interaction with Mr Debejak is little comfort for the Tradewind staff and travel suppliers still owed money.

When Tradewind suspended operations it claimed it had been affected by sanctions against its Russian-based bankers. 

However, DIV Group has also filed for pre-bankruptcy protection in Croatia.

“Everyone owed money in the UK is powerless unless DIV Group is liquidated in Croatia, because we could then make a claim to the UK Government for some redundancy pay,” said Maddie.

“At the moment we are in legal limbo.”

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