In a case which reveals that, when it comes to business misbehaviour, lightning can strike twice in the same place, an entrepreneur who was disqualified from acting as a company director following a fraud conviction was banned again more than 15 years later following a further spate of misconduct.
The entrepreneur was disqualified for 10 years in 1997 after he was found to have issued an inflated profit forecast in respect of a hotels company of which he was a director, and was jailed for eight years. However, in 2004, a judge granted him permission to act as director of an engineering company.
That permission was subject to tight conditions, including a requirement that he should not be involved in managing the company’s finances. Three years after he was appointed as a director, the company went into liquidation owing more than £1 million to creditors, including £480,000 in unpaid tax.
In those circumstances, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills obtained a further, 12-year, disqualification order against the entrepreneur under Section 6 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 on the basis that he had knowingly operated the business in breach of the conditions.
In dismissing the entrepreneur’s appeal, the High Court noted evidence that the only aspect of the company’s finances in which he had not taken a hand was the signing of cheques. Various ‘linguistic points’ that he had raised about the wording of the conditions were without merit and the 12-year disqualification was justified by his deliberate and persistent breaches of the same.