Grant Richardson, a director of Hugo Foods International Ltd (Hugo), has been banned as a director for 13 years by the High Court for claiming over 600,000 from a bank by raising invoices for undelivered goods.
The disqualification, which prevents Essex-based Mr Richardson (39) from acting as a company director, started on 7 August 2013 following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Mr Richardson was also found in breach of an earlier disqualification order for a similar offence at a family meat wholesale business, Brightblades (1990) Limited, which went into liquidation in 2000. He should therefore not have been acting as a director at Hugo between 2003 and 2009.
Following his first disqualification, Mr Richardson had resigned his directorship of Hugo and should not have been involved in its management. However, the Insolvency Service uncovered evidence which showed that he had continued to act as a director despite the earlier ban and that he did so with the full knowledge of his co-director, Nigel Potter.
Mr Potter was also disqualified for his part in the invoice scam and for allowing Mr Richardson to be involved in running the company. He gave an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills for eight years from 19 March 2013.
The investigation found that the meat wholesale company had breached the terms and conditions of its invoice discounting agreement with the bank by failing to obtain a name, date and signature on all proofs of delivery.
The company also operated a bill and hold arrangement with customers, whereby invoices were raised without goods having been delivered. Hugo, went into administration on 18 March 2011.
Hugo also raised 103 credit notes worth 657,718 in a single day despite having obtained insolvency advice regarding the company the previous day. These were raised against invoices for which Hugo had already received finance under the invoice discounting agreement with credit companies.
Commenting on the disqualifications, David Brooks, a Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
This case highlights the seriousness of a disqualified person disregarding the restrictions imposed upon them by the court and the systematic breach of invoice discounting agreements. The result is that the period of disqualification is much higher than would have been the case. He could also lose any protection against personal liability for company losses.
These disqualifications should serve as a reminder that the Insolvency Service will investigate directors conduct and, where appropriate take action to remove these people from the business environment.
Any directors tempted to cheat should be warned that the Insolvency Service will rigorously pursue anyone who fails to abide by the rules.