Press release

11 years disqualification for director’s payroll deception

Steven John Buntin, a recruitment consultant and a director of Act-on Recruitment Ltd, submitted timesheets which he knew to be false.

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Mr Buntin signed a disqualification undertaking preventing him from acting as a company director for a period of 11years with effect from 18 November 2016.

The disqualification, which follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service, means that Mr Buntin cannot control or manage a limited company without leave of the court.

The Insolvency Service’s investigation found that Mr Buntin submitted timesheets which he knew to be false to four Payroll Service Providers which enabled one employee to obtain funds of at least £42,991 to which she was not entitled and caused a loss to those Payroll Service Providers of £74,992.

The Payroll Service Providers would pay the employee the salary, commissions and bonuses specified on the timesheets submitted by Mr Buntin and remit the Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions due to HM Revenue and Customs.

Between 22 August 2014 and 08 March 2015 Mr Buntin issued false timesheets to Payroll Service Providers instructing them to pay an employee for hours not worked and/or commission not earned. Additionally invoices were issued to Payroll Service Providers which resulted in the employee being paid twice for the same periods of employment.

Robert Clarke, Head of Insolvent Investigations North at the Insolvency Service, said:

As the period of disqualification reflects using false documents to deprive creditors of money is a serious matter and contrary to the conduct expected of a company director.

Companies have limited liability, which is a privilege, not a right and The Insolvency Service have strong enforcement powers which we will not hesitate to use to remove that privilege from dishonest or reckless directors.

Notes to editors

Mr Buntins’ date of birth is 20 February 1983 and he resides in Wigan.

Act on Recruitment Limited (CRO No. 08480407) was incorporated on 09 April 2013 and traded from Astley Park Estate, Astley Park Business Centre, Office 27 Chaddock Lane, Astley Manchester. M29 7JY.

Mr Buntin was a director from 09 April 2013 to 03 June 2013 and from 22 August 2014 to until the company went into liquidation on 12 June 2015.The estimated deficiency at the date of Liquidation was £317,021.

On 28 October 2016, the Secretary of State accepted a Disqualification Undertaking from Steven John Buntin, effective from 18 November 2016, for a period of 11 years. The matters of unfitness, which Mr Buntin did not dispute in the Disqualification Undertaking, were that between 22 August 2014 and 13 March 2015 Mr Buntin caused or allowed Act-on-Recruitment (Recruitment) to submit timesheets which he knew or ought to have known were false to 4 Payroll Service Providers (PSPs) which enabled one employee to obtained funds of at least £42,991 to which she wasn’t entitled and caused a loss to those PSPs of £74,992.

Recruitment traded as a recruitment agency providing temporary employees to third parties.

On a weekly basis Recruitment supplied the PSPs with details of the hours worked, commissions and/or bonuses earned by each temporary employee. The PSPs had no contact with the third parties.

The PSPs would pay the employee their salary, including commissions and/or bonuses directly and remit Tax and National Insurance Contributions to HMRC. The PSP would then invoice Recruitment for the amount paid to the employee.

By issuing those instructions Recruitment caused the employee to receive funds totaling £42,991 to which they were not entitled.

During the period of 22 August 2014 and 08 March 2015 Recruitment issued instructions totaling £148,409 to PSPs, of which at least £74,992 were false, while making payments of £21,349 to PSPs.

Recruitment entered Liquidation with a deficiency of £317,021 of which £257,907 was outstanding to PSPs.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

  • 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

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.

Persons subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of other restrictions. The Insolvency Service, an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), administers the insolvency regime, and aims to deliver and promote a range of investigation and enforcement activities both civil and criminal in nature, to support fair and open markets. We do this by effectively enforcing the statutory company and insolvency regimes, maintaining public confidence in those regimes and reducing the harm caused to victims of fraudulent activity and to the business community, including dealing with the disqualification of directors in corporate failures.

BEIS’ mission is to build a dynamic and competitive UK economy that works for all, in particular by creating the conditions for business success and promoting an open global economy. The Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions team contributes to this aim by taking action to deter fraud and to regulate the market. They investigate and prosecute a range of offences, primarily relating to personal or company insolvencies.

The agency also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, 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, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.

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Published 25 November 2016