To whom it may concern:
We are the founders and former publishers of Metropolis, Japan’s No 1 English magazine. From 1993 we built up the magazine from a four-page sheet into the leading resource for foreigners and international Japanese. Metropolis was a beacon of what Japanese and foreigners could achieve by working together.
We would like to inform you that Terrie Lloyd, a high-school dropout from New Zealand, who claims to have started 27 companies in Japan, is not an honest businessman. He did not pay for our magazine, fraudulently transferred assets to try to hide from creditors and Japan’s tax authorities, has had numerous issues with employees, and has the worst reputation of any foreign businessperson in Tokyo.
By 2007, when Lloyd bought our magazine, Metropolis had ¥360 million in sales (around $4 million at that time), and 20% profit. He paid half then and contracted to pay the other half later. In 2010 he reneged on paying us the final ¥130 million payment. When we tried to collect our collateral we found out that within two weeks of signing the sale agreement in 2007, Lloyd and his wife, Kumko, had secretly, and illegally, remortgaged the collateral property to Shinsei Bank and took all of the money out of it. We were left with nothing.
Despite many promises and opportunities to pay he has never paid us what we are owed. In 2012 he reneged on a settlement deal he signed that summer for ¥45 million. In 2013 he refused to pay even ¥20 million, less than 10% of the amount he owes including interest.
Lloyd has told many people that we left the company with high debts. This is a lie. When we sold the business to Lloyd, the total debt amount was subtracted from the purchase price. This means Lloyd took the money from us, but did not pay the debts as agreed, then told everyone that it was us who caused the debt.
In 2012, while being chased by creditors who were owed over ¥100 million, Lloyd illegally transferred Metropolis and Japan Tourist to a shell company he purchased, installed a puppet CEO, and pretended that he no longer had any financial connection to it, even while he was simultaneously trying to get investors for that company. He only paid one printer (King Printers in Osaka) when the owner threatened to go to the police to report him for writing contracts while insolvent.
Lloyd will say that the main shareholder of his businesses is a Hong Kong fund:
The owner is a small fund based in HK. I’m under an NDA not to disclose who they are because as I said previously they are involved in some M&A activity here and don’t want to tip off their competitors.
How convenient. The fund “owner” is actually David Wells, Lloyd’s business partner. Lloyd uses Wells to hold, buy and sell his Japan assets offshore so that he can avoid creditors and pay a fraction of the taxes he should pay to the Japanese government (so much for “helping Japan“). Lloyd is misrepresenting himself when he says that the Hong Kong companies are independent from him. They are not: Lloyd is the primary beneficiary of any sale or investment.
It is important to note that when our legal action starts we will seek to unwind all of these transfers through forensic accounting. It does not matter how many times the assets are transferred, the law allows us to undo all of those transfers and reclaim the original assets. Assets that you are investing in may be seized at any time. You may be subject to penalties if you participate in any scheme to hide taxes from the Japanese government.
Under his management the magazine’s business declined rapidly. He published tawdry content that alienated the readers. He upset the advertisers with aggressive sales tactics. Many hard-working and loyal staff left due to his poor management. Things were going so badly he was forced to sell his 50-acre beachfront home in New Zealand. Even after he sold that he did not pay us, but instead, sickeningly, boasted that he was going to use the money to help Japan. Instead he used it on his own projects.
One of these projects, JapanTourist (now Japan Travel) was created by volunteers. Lloyd’s relationship with the volunteers was very poor. Many staff left due to the shady transfer of the business. Others complained they were not getting any help. Few made money, despite promises. He now uses an immoral intern scheme that has resulted in mental distress to its participants due to lack of support in a foreign country. Due to the departure of key staff information is often out-of-date and full of errors.
Lloyd has no programming background and does not understand how to make quality software. The software Lloyd claims he spent over ¥50 million developing has less functionality that a $100 off-the-shelf WordPress template.
He has lied about Metropolis distribution numbers, and has instructed his staff to lie about his website readership, doubling its user numbers. A message from his lead engineer to one of the volunteers:
“I am not a sales person. Sales people lie to get customers. A-san (sales manager at Metropolis) would say Site PV (page views) for Nov: 470000 (our peak, which was in July). But here are the hard facts from an engineer: Site PV for Nov: 190000
On June 1, 2014, in his Terrie’s Take newsletter he claimed the site was getting 2.2 million page views from 250,000 users.
It is simply impossible that each user looks at almost 10 pages; industry standard is 2.5 – 3 pages per user. He claims a 25% rise in month-on-month user numbers but there has been no rise in the site’s Alexa ranking.
Even if he did have those numbers, Japan Travel faces extreme competition not only from other foreign media in Japan, but more importantly from huge international sites. Do you really think that any overseas visitor is going to trust Japan Travel over Expedia or TimeOut? Among travel-related sites Japan Travel trails japan-guide.com by a huge margin. Advertisers know it’s a dud — the site has hardly any advertising. Lloyd can’t even get Metropolis advertisers to advertise. Deals with partners, like Sony, are only for giveaways. There is very little chance that Lloyd can expand the business in the future. Expansion into other languages splits the market. There is no money in hotel bookings. If he could be making money already he would be doing so and would not need any investment.
Because Lloyd did not pay us we have suffered five years of almost unbelievable financial hardship. We had to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars from friends just to keep our U.S. business going. In the end, even though we begged Lloyd to make a settlement for less than 10% of the amount owed, he refused to pay us. Lloyd would not even release money to allow me go to my father’s funeral.
Lloyd’s stock answer is to say that because we have not taken legal action against him that we have no case. This is false. We have consulted with many lawyers and all of them have said we have a clear-cut case (we are happy to put you in contact with them, and many others who have been damaged by Lloyd). The only thing that had stopped us is the cost of legal action in Japan, which we could not afford because he impoverished us. However, we are now recovering financially and will soon be able to put significant resources into suing Lloyd and his enablers. We expect this to go on for many years, and we will win.
We can only advise you not to get involved with him. His promises are lies and, while he may appear charming and knowledgeable his businesses are weak , his abilities are poor, and his business practices are dishonest, cheap, and immoral.
We hope this will help you so you do not lose money and time. We are happy to provide more detail and documentation if necessary.
Mark & Mary Devlin