Charles Howard Denbigh, a director of New Frontier Advisory Ltd (NFA), a London-based company which traded in rare earth metals and carbon credits has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills to be disqualified as a director for a period of 14 years for selling rare earth metals and carbon as an investment on the basis they would increase in value, when the investments were wholly unsuitable.
Mr Denbigh’s disqualification from 15 September 2015 means that he cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2029.
Commenting on this case Paul Titherington, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit, said:
Mr Denbigh should have known that the carbon credits and rare earth metals his company was selling, and the price his company charged for those products, meant that they were wholly unsuitable as an investment. Anyone showing such blatant disregard for commercial morality should expect to be banned from running any limited company for a lengthy period time.
The disqualification regime exists to protect the public. The Insolvency Service will pursue those who misuse companies to deprive members of the public of their hard earned money.
This disqualification follows investigation by the Official Receiver at the Public Interest Unit, a specialist team of the Insolvency Service, whose involvement commenced with the winding up of the company in the public interest following an investigation by Company Investigations - part of the Insolvency Service - into the affairs of the company.
The Official Receiver’s investigation uncovered that between 2011 and 2012 NFA cold called members of the public to sell them alternative investments charging two to three times the price it had paid its supplier for the carbon credits and four times the price it had paid its supplier for rare earth metals. NFA made sales totalling £2.5 million and achieved a gross profit of at least £1.7 million.
As early as 2010, it was apparent that HM Revenue & Customs; the Financial Conduct Authority; the Registries and the carbon credit market’s own self-regulating authorities considered that there was no viable exit strategy for the carbon credits sold by NFA at the time and that, even if there was, members of the public had no access to it. Even if there was a viable exit strategy, the price NFA was charging for the carbon credits meant that the carbon credits could not be sold without financial loss.
The rare earth metals sold by NFA to members of the public were wholly unsuitable as an investment as there was and remains no market for rare earth metals without industry certification and in the quantities sold by NFA.
Notes to Editors
New Frontier Advisory Ltd (Company number 07346421) was incorporated on 16 August 2010 as a Private Limited Company. Its trading address was:33rd Floor, 25 Canada Square, London E14 5LB.
The petition to wind up the company was presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills in the public interest following an investigation conducted by Company Investigations (Live), another specialist unit within the Insolvency Service which uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 (as amended) to conduct confidential enquiries into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations & Skills (BIS).
The winding up order against New Frontier Advisory Ltd Ltd was made on 1 May 2014. . 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
In addition that person cannot act as an insolvency practitioner and there are many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.
Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions is available.
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. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency 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, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is [available}(https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/insolvency-service).
All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit (South), The Insolvency Service, 2nd Floor, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London WC1B 3SS. Tel: 020 7637 6441 Email: email@example.com.
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Published: 11 September 2015
From: The Insolvency Service