Or a variation thereof. Notice how at least some of Mere Mortals' other games looked a lot more competent than London Cab Challenge, if not for the mediocre gameplay. Phoenix gave their developers just a bit of time and money to complete and submit new titles to them (besides buying publishing rights to budget-priced titles from Japan as in the case of Road Rage 3 to save them the trouble of developing a new game), and some would just do what they can muster out or sheer compliance, or in the case of London Cab Challenge, apparently troll Phoenix who would publish it regardless.
More or less unlikely, but Phoenix's enigmatic roots seems to beg such a theory from this troper. Financial info is hard to come by, and it is uncertain as to whether they did far more questionable business practices than what a typical corporate-run firm is into.