Three directors of a payday lender have been banned for a total of 20 years for illegally using funds from a pension liberation scheme to pay off the firm’s debt. The misconduct of the three individuals resulted in investors losing a total of £1.2 million.
Philip Miller, Robert Alan Davies, and Daniel Jonathan Miller, all directors of Essex-based Speed-e-Loans.com Limited (SEL), have been disqualified for periods of nine, six and five years respectively. The orders, imposed on them by the Insolvency Service, prevent them from acting as a director of a company; taking part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership; or acting as receiver of a company’s property.
SEL offered loans between 2010 and 2012. After it had withdrawn from the market, in October 2012, the firm began accepting investment from a pension liberation scheme operated by third-party brokers. This scheme involved members of the public investing via the brokers. However, none of the £1.2 million received by SEL from the scheme was used to fund their trading activities, and was instead all used to meet existing debt repayments.
Although the firm became aware in January 2013 that one of the brokers operating the liberation scheme was on trial for fraud, it continued to receive investment from the scheme. It only acted when a BBC documentary was aired in May 2013 raising concerns about such schemes in general, and at this stage the firm sought professional advice and subsequently entered into administration.
Cheryl Lambert, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
“The directors were collectively, and at the kindest interpretation, recklessly negligent in their desperation to save the company. None of them asked simple, obvious questions when it should have been clear to them the brokers were taking nearly 50% in fees, nor the type of scheme they had become involved with and the individuals who were pushing the scheme.
“Philip Miller, the proposer and principal character, stood to gain financially from individual the transactions through a commission and so his actions demand the harshest criticism.
“Taking action against the people most responsible is a warning to all directors that such behaviour will attract in a very significant sanction. You cannot hide behind a lack of technical knowledge of specialist schemes – you have to exercise independent and critical thought.”
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