Two directors of a group of print industry companies in the South of England have been disqualified from acting as company directors for false invoicing by the High Court, following an investigation by The Insolvency Service.
Michael Dolan, 64, and Richard Ben Crozier, 44, directors of Media & Print Investments PLC which was the holding company for the group of companies, were disqualified as directors for eight years each to take effect from 1 February 2013.
The disqualification orders were made in January 2013 at the conclusion of a November 2012 trial, the proceedings having been commenced in September 2010. The orders prevent Mr Dolan and Mr Crozier from being directors of a company, or being involved in the management of a company without permission of the court.
The investigations showed that Friary Press Limited raised two false invoices totalling 440,461 and obtained payment on them. The connected companies also made payments to their Mr Dolans and Mr Croziers own management companies at a time when creditors were not being paid.
In addition, assets subject to fixed charges were sold and the company failed to pay the proceeds to the charge holder, which suffered a loss estimated at 545,378.
During the proceedings the directors maintained that the group of companies collapsed due to a strike at Butler & Tanner Printers Limited in Frome in April 2008. The directors said this led to the company going into administration in May 2008, followed by the other companies in September 2008..
Media & Print Investments PLC,was the ultimate holding company of the group which had a number of print industry subsidiaries based in the South of England including, Friary Press Limited, Goodman Baylis Limited, Borcombe SP Limited and Butler & Tanner Printers Limited.
David Brooks, a Chief Examiner for the Insolvency Service stated:
These disqualifications should serve as a reminder that the Insolvency Service will investigate unacceptable conduct by company directors, especially in the run up to insolvency proceedings.
Actions taken with company assets have to be carried out with regard to creditors and others with interests in those assets.
Transactions at the final stages of a companys existence, when it is insolvent, need to be carried out with care with a view to the directors duties to all creditors and the company, not just to themselves.