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Directors banned after Berkshire vocational education companies fail to deliver any qualifications

06 July 2012 10:30

Insolvency Service

Mr Salim Habib Mohammed Ali Shivji and Mrs Nichola Mohammed Ali Shivji have been banned from being directors for a total of 17 years following an investigation by The Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit in Manchester, after the failure of two vocational education companies.

Mr Shivji who was a director of Precision Training UK Limited and Mrs Shivji, who was a director of both Precision Training UK Limited and Aspire Training and Assessment Ltd have both given undertakings to the Secretary of Sate not to be involved in the promotion, formation and management of companies for periods of 10 years and 7 years respectively.

Precision Training UK Limited (‘Precision’), based in Berkshire, was an education provider, delivering National Vocational Qualifications (“NVQs”) and Business & Technology Education Council (“BTEC”) courses to students working in care homes within the UK.

In the case of Precision, the investigation found that:

§ not a single student gained a qualification,

§ despite having least 1,253 students enrolled with them, only 220 were registered with the appropriate bodies;

§ the company failed to provide any, or anywhere near adequate resources for NVQ/BTEC training to enrolled students by failing to recruit adequate numbers of assessors to cope with the numbers of enrolled students despite stating on its website to have access to over 100 assessors nationwide;

§ despite losing the necessary accreditation from its two regulators, Precision continued to recruit new candidates which it was prohibited from registering and failed to remove regulator logos from its website as instructed;

§ Precision advertised and recruited students for at least one course that they did not hold regulator approval for;

§ The company ceased trading without giving notice to its students or its creditors and in June 2009. The business of Precision was purportedly transferred to Aspire also controlled by Mr Shivji and for nil consideration; In attempting to distance Precision from Aspire, he issued a letter to Precision’s students, in the name of Aspire, claiming that Aspire was in no way connected to Precision and giving reassurance that Aspire would deal with difficulties caused by Precision; according to him, Aspire never traded.

The Company was wound-up on public interest grounds on 19 May 2010, on the petition of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills following an investigation by the Insolvency Service’s Companies Investigations team.

Aspire Training and Assessment Ltd (Aspire’) purported to be unconnected to Precision Training UK Limited, but in reality was set-up by Mr Shivji to carry on the business of the former company.

Aspire did not commence to trade as it had had no resources or accreditation to carry on the failed business of Precision Training UK Limited and was also wound-up on 19 May 2010, on public interest grounds following an investigation by The Insolvency Service’s Companies Investigations team.

Between them, Precision and Aspire received at least 275 complaints from learners and their employers (amounting to claimed losses of at least £208,453) and had sanctions imposed by regulators which resulted in Precision being unable to register candidates and also being unable to issue certificates.

Commenting on the disqualifications, the Official Receiver of Public Interest Unit, Ken Beasley said:

“Not only did these directors mislead members of the public, they also failed to keep adequate records for the Company’s trading and reduced their own indebtedness by abusing public funds.

Any company that misleads members of the public can be investigated by the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service has strong enforcement powers and we will not hesitate to use them to remove dishonest or reckless directors from the business environment as these directors found out.”

Ends

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Notes to Editors

1. Precision Training UK Limited was incorporated as a private company on 9 October 2007. The directors of the company were Salim Habib Mohammed Ali Shivji and Nichola Mohammed Ali Shivji both of 4 Hillside, Stowmarket, IP14 2BD. The Company traded from latterly, 60 – 62 High Street, Burnham, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 7JT.

2. The company was wound up by the Court on 19 May 2010. The Court had previously appointed the Official Receiver as provisional liquidator of the Company on 18 February 2010. The majority of the students came from Bulgaria or Romania or from outside the European Union “EU”.

3. Aspire Training and Assessment Ltd was incorporated as a private company on 3 June 2009. The director of the company was Nichola Mohammed Ali Shivji of 4 Hillside, Stowmarket, IP14 2BD.

4. Mr Shivji’s and Mrs Shivji’s undertakings have been accepted and their periods of disqualification commence on 27 June 2012.

5. In addition to the conduct already mentioned, Mr Shivji and Mrs Shivji in providing their undertakings did not dispute various matters of unfit conduct including the following:

From November 2007, failing to ensure that Precision maintained and/or preserved adequate accounting records, or in the alternative failed to deliver up such records to the Official Receiver. In addition, they caused Precision to use false company records. In particular:

a) No formal accounts for Precision were completed and/or filed with the Registrar during the company’s trading period, initially falling due for filing in August 2009;

b) It has not been possible to accurately establish the level of sales and the reason for the difference of £314,497 between sales turnover shown in Precision’s signed accounts for the period ending 31 October 2008 and the banked receipts in the same period; He stated that the accounts included projected figures and later questioned the authenticity of the accounts;

c) It had not been possible to establish the actual amount of Pay As You Earn (“PAYE”) Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions (“NIC”) owed by the Company in the absence of annual tax returns (forms p35) and/or in the absence of a full set of payroll and other such records, resulting in a claim in Liquidation by HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”) of £1,400;

d) It has not been possible to verify the use of monies totalling £130,986 which appear to have been for the directors’ personal expenditure, including 149 cash withdrawals totalling £88,801 and to determine the total benefit derived by him in trading Precision;

e) On 23 March 2009, they caused Precision to apply for a £50,650 government backed loan at a time when they knew, or ought to have known, that the Company was insolvent. This was drawn down on 1 June 2009 when the Company ceased trading, thereby reducing both co-director’s personal liabilities. In particular:

Precision was the subject of various insolvency indicators prior to applying for the loan, such as;

· County Court Judgments (“CCJs”) obtained against the Company totalling £4,267, with a further ten CCJs pending.

· Various overdue creditor balances leading to account suspensions and closures;

· The threat of legal action by several creditors;

· Being unable to adhere to an agreed payment plan

· A steadily increasing bank overdraft;

6. Disqualification undertakings were introduced in April 2001, they are an administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Without specific permission of a court, a person with a Company Directors Disqualification, including Undertakings, cannot:-

Act as a director of a company; take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company; be a liquidator or administrator of a company; or be a receiver or manager of a company’s property.

7. Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions can be found at www.bis.gov.uk/companies/company-investigations

8. The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. The Service also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession; deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures; assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees; provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds; and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of The Insolvency Service is available from www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency

9. Media enquiries should be directed to: Ade Daramy, Press Officer 020 7596 6187 and: ade.daramy@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

Ins12/Coms/058

Contact Information

Ade Daramy
Name
Ade Daramy
Job Title
Mr
Division
Insolvency Service
Phone
020 7596 6187
Fax
Mobile
Email
ade.daramy@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk