The disqualifications come after an investigation into the activities of Lake and Knight who ran Charter Financial Solutions Limited; Charter Financial Solutions (UK) Limited; Finance Select (UK) Limited; Bounce World Limited and Trash Express Limited. All the companies were all based in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Each company was ordered into liquidation, on the grounds of public interest on 22 May 2009.
Insolvency Service investigators found the directors had deliberately given false information to a high street bank in connection with an application for a bank account for Finance Select (UK) Limited. The directors wrongly stated they had never been associated with a business that had a court order of a debt registered against it.
Commenting on the case Stephen Speed, Chief Executive of The Insolvency Service, said;
“Companies providing deliberately misleading information to lenders and potential investors is serious misconduct and it undermines the confidence the public have in business. I hope the disqualification periods secured in this case sends a clear and simple message to other company directors. The Insolvency Service has strong enforcement powers and we will not hesitate to use them to remove dishonest or reckless people from the business environment.”
In signing their Company Director Disqualification Undertakings Mr Lake and Mr Knight accepted they had:-
· caused or allowed Charter Financial Solutions Limited, Finance Select (UK) Limited and Bounce World Limited to be marketed to the public as involving a well-established and successful business model when, as they knew or ought to have known, the business model was in fact unsuccessful and flawed and had not been long-established;
· knowingly or recklessly caused or allowed the foregoing three companies (and Mr Lake additionally in Trash Express UK Limited) to make misleading statements to franchisees and prospective franchisees, including misleading statements as to the success and prospective income which franchisees could expect to achieve;
· knowingly caused or allowed Charter Financial Solutions Limited and Finance Select (UK) Limited to publish false and misleading testimonials for the services offered; and
· knowingly or recklessly provided false information to the Office of Fair Trading in an application by Finance Select (UK) Limited for a consumer credit licence.
Members of the public who think they know of a person who is acting in breach of a Director Disqualification Order or Undertaking can report them to The Insolvency Service Enforcement Hotline on 0845 601 3546.
Notes to Editors
1 Mr Christopher Lake and Mr Stephen Knight both signed eight year Director Disqualification Undertakings on 26 July 2010.
2 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.
Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions can be found at http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/directordisqualificationandrestrictions/whatisdisqualification.htm
3 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 http://www.insolvency.gov.uk
4 To report a director acting in breach of a disqualification contact The Insolvency Service on 0845 601 3546, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at Insolvency Service - Hotline Team, 3rd Floor, Cannon House, 18 Priory Queensway, Birmingham B4 6BS. A disqualified director search can be carried out at http://www.insolvency.gov.uk/doitonline/ddbase.htm