Kieren Paul Cassidy became the second director of two connected vehicle matching companies (Vehicle Seller UK Limited and Vehiclematch Services Limited) to receive an 11-year directorship disqualification following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Cassidy’s disqualification, which commences on 27 October 2010, follows that of fellow director Andrew Louka whose ban commenced in August. The length of the disqualification reflects the level of responsibility that Cassidy had for the way in which the two companies operated.
The investigation was passed on to The Insolvency Service by Redbridge Trading Standards who received over 240 complaints about Vehicle Seller UK. Investigators found the two companies, Vehicle Seller UK Ltd (VSL) and Vehiclematch Services Ltd (VML) were under common control and that in the period 05 December 2006 to 29 April 2009, VSL’s liquidation date, Cassidy caused the company to deliberately confuse and mislead the public in a number of ways including telling customers that:
· that they had existing enquiries form a number of buyers for the type of vehicle they were trying to sell, when this wasn’t the case;
· they had buyers waiting and willing to purchase immediately;
· the company would market the vehicles to potential buyers until sold;
· the company was in contact with thousands of buyers every week;
· all vehicles were ‘matched’ within seven days;
· those wishing to purchase a vehicle would be able to do at below market value;
· the company had affiliate organisations through which they could arrange finance for buyers.
In signing his Undertaking Mr Cassidy did not dispute that he failed to provide the Official Receiver with up to date accounting records to explain the financial transactions entered into by Vehicle Seller Ltd. Without proper accounting records it is not possible to know the number of sales made by Vehicle Seller Ltd and if the £973,929 received into its bank account were as a result of those sales. Other transaction that were not explained included:-
- to whom cheques totaling £290.826 were issued to and if they were legitimate business transactions
- the recipients of £97,446 withdrawn from cash machines and £63,500 withdrawn over the counter using a debit card
Commenting on the case, Stephen Speed, Chief Executive of The Insolvency Service said;
“The Insolvency Service is determined to come down hard on directors of who set out to rip off the public by deliberately misrepresenting what they can offer the consumer. I would urge all consumers to be vigilant when it comes to apparently ‘good deals’ and to read the small print”
Due to Cassidy’s failure to ensure that the companies kept proper records, the Official Receiver was not able to verify the claims made as to the level of sales achieved by the companies. Nor was it possible to determine the true number of creditors or whether the companies had any assets.
As a result of concerns raised about the working practices of VSL including 2,700 complaints during its 18 months of trading, the company was wound-up in the public interest.
The companies’ preferred methods included not providing written confirmation to customers as to their cancellation rights or a cooling-off period. VML devised what it called a ‘Fair Trading Charter’, which said the customer had no cancellation rights. The investigation found no evidence that the companies had complied with Consumer Regulations requiring obtaining consumers’ consent to waive their cancellation rights.
Commenting on the disqualification, Hayley Roberts from Redbridge Trading Standards, who cooperated with The Insolvency Service on this case said,
“The Trading Standards team received hundreds of complaints from customers who had been left out of pocket and without any way to get their money back. Directors, Kieren Paul Cassidy and Andrew Louka showed a total lack of regard for their customers and the disqualification will ensure they do not return to take advantage of the public again.”
Andrew Louka’s 11-year disqualification commenced on 2 August 2010.
Notes to editors
1.Vehiclematch Services Limited was incorporated on 3 November 2003 and its registered office was at 1 King’s Avenue, Winchmore Hill, London, N21 3NA. The company was put into provisional liquidation on 2 May 2007 and went into compulsory liquidation on 5 December 2007. On the making of the winding up order the Official Receiver was appointed as liquidator.
2.Vehicle Seller UK Ltd was incorporated on 9 November 2006..Its registered office was at Leigh House, Weald Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 4SX. This was the address of the company’s accountants. Marriotts Associates. Prior to 11 August 2008, the registered office of the company was at 543 Green LANES, London N13 4DR. The company carried on business from premises at 96A George LANE, South Woodford, London E18 IAD.
The petition to wind-up the company in the public interest was presented on 25 March 2009 under Section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986. The company was compulsorily wound-up by the court on 29 April 2009.
3 The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. The Service also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession; deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures; assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees; provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds; and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of The Insolvency Service is available from http://www.insolvency.gov.uk
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