Bob Bull had it all – with a personal fortune of £1.9 billion ($A3.686 billion).
In spring last year Britain’s biggest bungalow builder joined The Times Rich List as the 88th wealthiest person in the UK.
To mark this milestone, Mr Bull – who had been bankrupt just seven years earlier and “too poor to afford a KFC” – invited The Sun to spend the day at his £10 million ($A19.4 million) mansion, with its three-lane 10-pin bowling alley.
He and his partner Sara posed next to a £4 million ($A7.76 million) collection of 12 supercars, including five Rollers, three Lamborghinis and a 211mph (760km/h) Ferrari.
Just nine months later the cars have been repossessed, the house near Southampton is up for sale and even his £15,000 ($A29,100) Hublot Ferrari Grand Prix watch has been returned.
Because, late last year, he was made bankrupt again – this time for £725 million ($A1.41 billion).
In an exclusive interview Mr Bull, 46, reveals for the first time how he has been the victim of an organised crime network – linked, he believes, to the notorious Kinahan drug cartel.
He, his family, and his staff say they have been the victims of beatings, kidnap threats and fraud.
Mr Bull and Sara – now his wife – were attacked and beaten up in a bar near Manchester.
A thug knocked petite Sara unconscious before stealing the keys to Mr Bull’s £450,000 ($A873,000) Rolls-Royce.
The following month a court made him bankrupt, claiming he owes three-quarters of a billion pounds.
Now Bob Bull is angry and fighting back.
He commissioned a team of former Scotland Yard detectives to compile a dossier on his nightmare, seen by The Sun.
They concluded that “Mr Bull has been the victim of a conspiracy to defraud him, to destroy his £4 billion ($A7.76 billion) caravan, bungalow and holiday parks business”.
It alleges that the perpetrators have benefited to the tune of £46 million ($A89.24 million) and that constant threats made to his family led to the death of his father.
Speaking to The Sun on the 35th floor of London’s Shard skyscraper, Mr Bull reveals he is fighting to overturn the bankruptcy and has secured over £1 billion ($A1.94 billion) of funding to get the business back on its feet.
He said: “If I don’t appeal the bankruptcy, I’m finished.
“I’d rather jump out that window than let that happen because that is dishonouring my dad’s grave, dishonouring all my beautiful family.
“My wife has punched and kicked out of thin air.
“You could look at her and say she is a beauty queen but she is a prettier person inside than you would ever know.
“She has watched cars disappear off the driveway and never said a thing.
“They have been repossessed because criminals have come for my companies.
“The moment you are bankrupt, all your finance agreements are dead.
“If the judge who heard the bankruptcy knew I was the victim of criminality I think the bankruptcy would have been thrown out.
“These people have taken me to the limits of my life and my wife says ‘I’m there for you’.
“The truth shames the Devil. There’s no secret stash of money, Sara and my son have paid for my train fare to meet you today.”
Mr Bull’s problems began in autumn 2022 – six months before he was listed in the Rich List – when he tried to refinance his company Royal Life, which was said to be worth £4 billion ($A7.76 billion).
But at the last minute the £2.8 billion ($A5.432 billion) finance package – the biggest real estate deal in Europe – collapsed after the lender suddenly pulled out.
Mr Bull says in desperation, and under duress after threats were made to hit the business with a winding up order, he borrowed £3 million ($A5.82 million) from a millionaire, who turned out to be a member of an organised crime group with rumoured links to Ireland’s Kinahan crime family.
Heaven to hell
The £3 million ($A5.82 million) was to be paid back within four weeks, plus a punishing interest rate of £3 million ($A5.82 million) interest a month.
This quickly turned into a demand for an astonishing £42 million ($A81.48 million) – backed, Mr Bull claims, with intimidation and kidnap threats.
The report prepared by the ex-Met police team alleges Mr Bull was deliberately targeted with the intention of ruining him and taking control of his business assets.
It continues: “This group is feared because of its use of extreme violence, including murder, against rivals.
“In Mr Bull’s case they lost no time in using the menace of violence by the Irish cartel as a means of reinforcing unwarranted demands, as well as issuing their own threats of violence and kidnapping …”
Mr Bull says he signed over security on millions of pounds worth of property in his four main businesses after heavies threatened to kidnap his eight-year-old son.
By handing over the security, known as debentures, his other lenders lost confidence and took his land and assets under protective administration.
The detectives’ report alleges that Mr Bull handed over cash and securities totalling £39 million ($A75.66 million) “based on a conspiracy to defraud and blackmail”.
It continues: “Mr Bull’s own father suffered a fatal heart attack in the summer of 2023 as a result of those threats.”
As the threats continued Mr Bull employed permanent security at his home and offices in Hampshire.
But that did not stop the man arriving with a Chechen bruiser and warning: “If I don’t get my money I’m gonna bring an army down here with machines and bulldozers and level this place, with Bob in there.”
Mr Bull considered moving to the Manchester area where he grew up to escape the nightmare.
Last November he took his new bride to the North West to check out the area but on a night out at the Bubble Room bar, in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, Mr Bull and his wife Sara were attacked.
He says: “A guy come in and walked straight over. He said some things to her that you shouldn’t say about parts of his body and her mouth.
“She told him off. He hit her, she fell to the floor and was definitely unconscious for about 10 seconds.
“I attacked him and it was a mess. We ended up going outside and then the security split us up.
“My missus regained consciousness and could see the guy hitting me. There was blood everywhere. My nose was plastered all over my face.
“When he left, he took my coat and car keys. Why did he do that?”
Mr Bull found out the following day when a recovery mechanic discovered a Land Rover Defender full of heavies blocking in Mr Bull’s black Rolls Royce Cullinan where he had left it the night before in the Marriott hotel car park at Hale.
The heavies told the stunned mechanic that they were owed £10 million ($A19.4 million) and if Mr Bull was not there in 30 minutes they would smash the car to pieces.
They gave the mechanic a number for Mr Bull to call – it was one of the people who he claims had been putting the squeeze on his business.
Cops arrived at the scene, cautioned the gang, told them to leave and issued a crime number.
Mr Bull says: “I never owed him ten million. We borrowed £3 million ($A5.82 million) and then they created carnage through my business.
“I’ve lost count of the times I have sat and cried on the phone to the police, waited in the house for them to arrive but they never turned up.”
Then, last December, Mr Bull was declared bankrupt for £725 million ($A1.4075 billion) of at a hearing in Southampton county court.
He says he had been working on an IVA – Individual Voluntary Arrangement – to keep the business afloat while he sorted out the finances.
There is no suggestion that the creditors who made an application for bankruptcy proceedings had any knowledge of or were involved in any criminality.
Late last month, Mr Bull was back in Manchester fighting to overturn the bankruptcy to allow him to salvage the business and save 2000 jobs.
Mr Bull told to The Sun: “I now have over £1 billion ($A1.94 billion) worth of private capital to rebuild Royale Life and to repair all the damage done by these individuals.
“Finally people are listening to me instead of them.
“My backers are supporting my cash flow because they know the problems have been down to no fault of my own.
“They believe in me and the business and they are confident I have the key to the door of the future success of the bungalow market.”
Meanwhile, the 90-page detectives’ dossier has been handed to Hampshire police who have interviewed Bob Bull for nearly ten hours over his allegations.
Hampshire police said: “Our inquiries are ongoing.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.