Two men who ran a debt collection agency in the north east of England have been disqualified from acting as directors.
Terence Mellor, 52, of Northumberland and Ross Alan Morton, 28, of Sunderland, have both been disqualified following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, which administers the insolvency regime in England and Wales.
The Insolvency Service applied to the courts to get both disqualified for a combined, total period of 22 years.
Terence Michael Mellor and Ross Alan Morton were disqualified by the court on June 22 for 10 years, and 12 years respectively, with effect from July 13.
Both were directors of Express M S Limited, a company that had previously been investigated by the Insolvency Service’s Company Investigations unit, which acts on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Credit Strategy understands that Express MS provided business-to-business collections and that some of the clients included BT, Barclaycard and Barclays Bank.
The company provided debt collection services charging customers an annual fee, with commission being payable on any debt recovered.
The matters of unfit conduct found by the court were that the directors had:
• Caused or allowed Express to make misleading and unfounded statements to customers;
• Made recoveries on behalf of customers that they had failed to pay over.
In one example a construction client paid Express MS £495 plus VAT to recover a £7,000 debt, which the client was told could be recovered from a company that had been liquidated after trading fraudulently.
The construction client was promised monthly updates but none were received. Several calls to Express MS received no response and no money was ever received from the collection agency.
Ken Beasley, official receiver at the Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit, said: “This company misled customers, inducing them into entering into contracts for debt collection services and subsequently failed to remit all collections made on behalf of those customers.
“Such behaviour falls below the standards expected of responsible directors of a limited company.”
He added: “The Insolvency Service has strong enforcement powers and we will not hesitate to remove directors from the business environment who have failed to demonstrate the level of care and responsibility required of them.”
Express M S Limited was incorporated on August 8 2012 and was based in North Shields, Tyne & Wear.
In July 2014 the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills presented a petition to wind the company up on grounds of public interest. In September 2014, the company was liquidated on the orders of the secretary of state. The action against the individuals was taken after the company was closed down.
By Marcel LeGouais