A Birmingham haulage company boss has been banned from running companies for nine years after falsely claiming £1m worth of work to secure advance payments from lenders.
Neil Avery Hughes, 51, from Water Orton, was a director of Contact Transport, incorporated in February 1980, and which traded from premises in Garretts Green providing transport and parcel delivery services. In 2011, Contact Transport was acquired by another company, Keelex 369, before it entered into a company voluntary arrangement in the same year to help manage its debts, which completed in July 2015.
While the company returned to profit between 2012 and 2014, Contact Transport entered into a difficult trading period and fell behind in repaying its debts to creditors. As a result, a winding-up petition was filed against Contact Transport in March 2017 before the company became insolvent, with administrators appointed in April 2017.
Further investigations found that Contact Transport had entered into an invoice discounting agreement with an external lender, allowing the company to get advances on cash it was owed from customers rather than waiting for them to pay.
But during an April 2017 audit the lender became aware of discrepancies between what Contact Transport had claimed and what it was actually owed from its clients.
Investigators found that Hughes caused Contact Transport to claim funds for work that were higher in value than the work completed which resulted in the firm securing increased levels of funding and cashflow to the value of just more than £1m. Hughes resigned as a director of Contact Transport in June before he provided a disqualification undertaking to the Secretary of State on 25 July where he did not dispute he falsified claims to the lender.
In his undertaking, Hughes did not dispute that:
. between at least November 2016 and April 2017, he caused Contact Transport to notify the company with which it operated a confidential invoice discount facility of invoice values which were of higher value than the work actually completed during that period; and
. as a result Contact Transport had access to funds of at least £1,030,115 to which it was not entitled. This resulted in a loss of at least £1,030,155 to the invoice discount facility provider.
Hughes is now banned for nine years - effective from 15 August - from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company. Martin Gitner, deputy head of insolvent investigations for the Insolvency Service, said: “Securing advanced payments is a legitimate method of sourcing working capital finance.
“However, Neil Hughes submitted false documents to wrongfully and deceptively claim more money than was actually owed to Contact Transport. Nine years is a significant ban and this should serve as a warning to other company directors that the Insolvency Service has strong enforcement powers to remove dishonest or reckless directors from operating a business for a considerable amount of time.”
As it was a disqualification undertaking, Hughes voluntarily banned himself so there was no hearing or judge involved.