Ms Townsend, the former Director of Greendeal Helpline Ltd, now has a seven-year ban from being a director. This follows the discovery of major discrepancies in her VAT payments.
Here, we will look at how this situation arose so other directors can avoid making the same mistakes.
Who was Greendeal Helpline Ltd?
Based in Leicester, Greendeal Helpline Ltd was a generator of sales leads, primarily for the government’s Green Deal initiative.
The aim of this project is to help businesses and homeowners install more green technologies in their properties. Equipment is set up with no upfront costs, and installation fees are paid back through monthly energy bills.
Sadly, the company went into voluntary liquidation on 6 April 2016. It owed £110,236 to creditors, including £58,522 relating to Value Added Tax (VAT).
Who is Christie Townsend?
Ms Anne Christie Townsend, also known as Christie, became a director of Greendeal Helpline Ltd on 7 February 2012.
She remained the director until the company went into voluntary liquidation in April 2016.
Why was she disqualified as a director?
Ms Townsend was found guilty of under-declaring VAT - a prime example of unfit conduct for a director.
Her submission of incorrect VAT returns to HMRC resulted in the company receiving £21,588 in VAT reclaims. In reality, £30,542 should have been paid out to HMRC. Therefore, Ms Townsend under-declared at least £52,130.
On 11 September 2017, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy accepted a disqualification undertaking from Ms Townsend.
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but eliminate the need for court proceedings. This streamlines the process and can save on court/legal fees.
Ms Townsend’s disqualification began on 2 October and will last for seven years. During this time, unless she has specific permission from the court, she will be unable to:
- Act as a director of a company
- Take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- Be a receiver of a company’s property
This all occurred over a year after her company went into liquidation, proving that liquidation is not the end for many insolvency proceedings.
After any form of liquidation, an insolvency practitioner assesses the director’s conduct. A director can face severe consequences if he or she has acted wrongfully or fraudulently. These include:
- Director disqualifications (between two and 15 years)
- Being held personally liable for the total amount
- Prison Sentences
Luckily for Ms Townsend, this under-declaration of VAT is a middle-bracket offence. However, HMRC will not receive payment of the money owed.
Martin Gitner, Deputy Head of Investigations with the Insolvency Service said:
”Under-declaration of the VAT due by a company deprives the exchequer of the monies needed to provide public services. In co-operation with HMRC, the Insolvency Service will not hesitate to investigate such misconduct with disqualification as a director the likely outcome.”
If you are concerned about director disqualification, VAT payments or your company’s financial state, ask our company turnaround experts for advice.