Priyesh Rawal has been disqualified from acting as a director for 12 years, and his former wife, Shaina Saleem Shipton (also known as Shaina Saleem Patel) has been disqualified from acting as a director for three and a half years following and investigation by the Insolvency Service.
The investigation showed that while they were directors of One Click Ventures Limited, the Company defrauded Royal Mail Group Limited to the tune of 523,769.
The investigation found Mr Rawal caused One Click Ventures Limited to defraud Royal Mail Group Limited by operating a policy of falsifying information in relation to the number of packages despatched.
Shaina Shipton, who was the Operations Director with the responsibility for ensuring that employees followed the correct procedures and was responsible for an accounting function (including the payment of the Royal Mail invoices), failed to properly exercise her directorial duties resulting in the company improperly operating an online business account facility with Royal Mail .
The company was incorporated in June 2009 and started trading in November 2009 as an online mail order retailer of pharmaceuticals. Both Mr Rawal and Shaina Shipton were the only directors from the start to the end of trading in December 2012. The company ceased trading after Royal Mail obtained a restraint order following audits and investigation of suspicious activity. It had estimated assets totalling 10,500 and liabilities totalling 974,750 at liquidation.
Mr Rawal was found guilty of fraud, received a suspended sentence and was ordered to pay compensation on 13 November 2013. No criminal findings were made against Ms Shipton, his then wife.
The Insolvency Service investigation found that:
One Click utilised the Online Business Account system provided by Royal Mail which allows large clients to create Printed Postage Impressions on the customers packages on the basis that the customer would then declare the correct number and weight of the packages and pay for the postage
Mr Rawal personally knowingly and deliberately failed to declare the true number of packages that were sent by One Click
Ms Shipton was the Operations Director with the responsibility for ensuring that employees carried the correct procedures and was responsible for an accounting function including the payment of the Royal Mail invoices
during 1 December 2011 to 16 October 2012 the Directors, who were in a relationship and subsequently married, were recorded to have been paid or had dividends paid in the amount of 126,093.82
Commenting on the disqualification, Cheryl Lambert, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
Directors have a duty to ensure that the procedures they construct and oversee comply with the law. Directors who do not comply with this basic obligation can expect to be investigated by the Insolvency Service and enforcement action taken to remove them from the market place.
In this case Mr Rawal constructed a fraudulent trading operation resulting in over 1/2million being wrongly extracted. Mr Rawal took advantage of systems designed to reduce time delays and cost to UK business for his own personal benefit.
Ms Shipton did not ensure that the necessary controls and procedures were in place to prevent the implementation of dishonest business practices. She had executive responsibility for an operation that obtained money by systematically providing false information. This is activity that goes to the very core and basis of the economic system.
Taking action against Ms Shipton is a warning to all directors to seriously consider, and ensure they perform, their duties and obligations. They cannot hide behind the excuse that others did something when they had responsibility and the means to know.