Three directors of Centaur Global Limited (Centaur), a company incorporated to provide betting investment products and betting information direct to clients, have been disqualified from acting as directors for a combined 24 years for allowing the company to trade while insolvent, leading to losses for its clients.

The bans follow an investigation by the Insolvency Service which found that Keith Sobey (66), Mrs Hazel Sobey (60) and Andrew Cork (54):

Caused or allowed Centaur to trade whilst insolvent and to the detriment of its clients.

Failed to make sure that Centaur (i) safeguarded and protected client funds, contrary to claims made in their advertising to attract new business and (ii) maintained adequate records to properly account for 1,582,602 of company funds.

Commenting on the disqualifications, Mark Bruce, a Chief Examiner at the Insolvency Service said:

Companies that deal with client funds must take extra care to protect that money and ensure that financial records clearly identify any separation from the companys general trading accounts.

The directors in Centaur failed in these regards and their serious misconduct is reflected in the lengthy period of disqualification.

The Insolvency Service will always look to remove from the business community those directors whose behaviour falls below the standards expected of them, given the circumstances of their companys trading.

Mr Keith Sobey, Mrs Hazel Sobey and Mr Andrew Cork have each given undertakings to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills that they will not act as a director of a limited company for eight years from 5 February 2014.

Centaur went into voluntary liquidation in January 2012 owing its clients 1,688,300 for funds they had been led to believe were held in segregated client accounts. Total assets available at the date of liquidation were estimated to realise 2,429, leaving a total shortfall of an estimated 2,590,992.

The Insolvency Service investigation found that between January 2010 and the date of liquidation, Centaur failed to adhere to its own internal guidance concerning safeguarding and monitoring of client funds. Despite the failure to do this, the company continued to solicit business, claiming that such money would be ring-fenced.

The investigation further found that from 1 January 2010 Centaur was both balance sheet insolvent and loss making; a fact that ought to have been clear to the directors. Nevertheless, the company continued trading in the hope of securing investment. In the absence of other available funding, they used clients money to subsidise on-going losses.

After 1 January 2010, company funds totalling 1,582,602 were paid to Mr and Mrs Sobey. This was explained as being used to conduct gambling on behalf of the companys clients in order to benefit from better rates than would have been available to the company. Of the amount they received, 1,204,195 was returned to the company account during trading by Mr and Mrs Sobey, however insufficient company records were delivered up to properly show how these funds were used and what precise returns were due to the company.