The directors of a company involved in deals traced back to fraudulent tax losses of over 13 million have been disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 34 and a half years, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Neil Arthur Pursell (aged 51) of Stoke-on-Trent, Adrian John Sumnall (45) of Market Drayton, Shropshire and James Elphinstone Reed (45) of Tarporley, Cheshire all directors of Ace Telecom Trading Limited (ATT) all gave disqualification undertakings to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) not to promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2026.

The undertakings given by Mr Pursell and Mr Sumnall followed court proceedings commenced by the Official Receiver.

ATT, which traded as a wholesaler of mobile telephones and other electronic goods, was wound-up by the Court on 8 July 2013 owing more than 18 million to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and with an estimated total deficiency to creditors of 32 million.

In giving the undertakings, Pursell, Sumnall and Reed did not dispute that they caused or allowed ATT to participate in transactions which were connected to the fraudulent evasion of VAT, which they either knew or should have known about, and that ATT wrongfully claimed VAT from HMRC totalling almost 14 million.

Mr Pursell and Mr Sumnall were also directors of Winnington Networks Limited (Winnington) which was placed in to Provisional Liquidation on the application of HMRC in March 2014, after the Court was satisfied that Winnington was involved in fictitious trading connected to a complex VAT fraud. Winnington was subsequently wound up with tax debts of approximately 6 million.

Commenting on the disqualifications, Ken Beasley, Official Receiver at the Insolvency Services Public Interest Unit, said:

The directors of Ace Telecom Trading Limited were well aware of the risks of VAT fraud but nonetheless the company entered into transactions linked to the fraudulent evasion of VAT and wrongfully reclaimed VAT input tax of almost 14 million.

VAT fraud represents a pernicious attack on the public finances and the periods of disqualification reflect the serious view taken of the conduct of the directors in this case.

The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers to disqualify directors involved in schemes aimed at defrauding HMRC