THE man who came to the rescue of a threatened Hampshire bus company is facing criminal proceedings, the Daily Echo can reveal.

Adam Smith will appear in court later this month charged with possessing counterfeit money.

The businessman recently completed his takeover of Eastleigh-based Velvet after the company went into administration in July.

But the 31-year-old says there is a “very strong possibility” he will be found not guilty in his pending court case, which he says has no bearing on his takeover at Velvet.

As previously reported, the bus firm, which traded as Black Velvet Travel Ltd, went into administration on July 16, putting the jobs of 15 staff at risk and forcing other bus firms to step in and take on routes temporarily.

But Mr Smith, previously group operations manager at Surrey-based Buses Excetera, stepped in to save the firm and jobs.

This week Mr Smith went before the Traffic Commissioner for the South East as he bids to be named a director and transport manager for a new firm based in Redhill, Surrey ETC Ltd, which is a completely separate business from Velvet.

During the hearing it was revealed that Mr Smith will face trial later this month on a charge of possessing counterfeit money, relating to the sale of a minibus while working at Croydon Coaches.

He has denied the charge.

Mr Smith is set to appear at Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court in the fortnight following August 18.

At the hearing, he also confirmed that his original name was Paul Jones, but he changed it by deed poll when he was 18 due to a “family dispute”.

Traffic Commissioner John Baker adjourned the hearing about Surrey ETC Ltd pending the result of the court case, while also asking Mr Smith and business partner Nigel Thomas to provide more information on bank statements.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Smith said the court case would have “absolutely no” impact on operations at Velvet.

As Mr Smith is a financial backer of the Velvet firm and not a named director he did not have to go through the same vetting procedure when he took over the company. He said he would be appointing his “own people” to run it.

He added: “The company will continue exactly the same as it currently is, just under new ownership.

“We have saved the workforce, all of the workers wouldn’t have their jobs and we’ve saved Hampshire County Council money through emergency contracts which would have been costlier had they been done by other companies.

“That’s the important thing – we will push this brand forward.”