A Hampshire operator has had its licence application refused after the traffic commissioner (TC) found he had dishonestly gained a bounce-back loan and sought to write off a substantial debt owed to taxpayers.
Company director Gregory Swartz appeared before TC Kevin Rooney after he applied for a new O-licence in the name of Gregorys Transport.
He had previously been director of a company called GMAKX, which had offered to surrender its O-licence, but the TC refused this after a maintenance investigation was carried out into the haulier by the DVSA.
GMAKX had been sold to Atherton Corporate in January 2023 and as part of the sale Swartz had been instructed to surrender the licence and he was also replaced by director Neville Taylor.
Concerned by this, TC Rooney carried out background research and found that Taylor was a director for around 300 companies and Atherton Corporate advertised its services as being “cheaper and quicker than a CVA”.
At the public inquiry (PI), Swartz insisted he had not sold the business to avoid debt or to avoid GMAKX entering insolvency; he said he just wanted to sell it and thought this was the best route.
However, he also said GMAKX was not in good financial health and owed £45,000 on a bounce-back loan – which the TC found it was not eligible to have received.
In his decision, the TC said: “I can find no motive for the sale of GMAKX to Neville Taylor other than to avoid the outstanding liabilities, which included in the order of a £45,000 bounce-back loan, £9,692 VAT and £397 PAYE.
“This motive is confirmed by Mr Swartz’ oral evidence when he described the decision to sell the debt-ridden GMAKX as ‘a no-brainer’.
“Mr Swartz told me things at the public inquiry that were not true. He told me that he was paid £2,000 for GMAKX when the actual price paid was £1. Even in the heat of an inquiry, that is not something that I would expect a witness to get so badly wrong.”
He added: “By disposing of the company, Mr Swartz has sought to avoid significant liabilities due to the public purse and to allow the taxpayer to pick up the pieces.
“If the sale was not illegal, it was certainly unethical.”