Press release

And, Cut!: Film production company closed down following Insolvency Service investigation into missing millions

Brighton-based Warlord Productions Ltd, a company which claimed it would act as a co-producer of Henry 5, a film version of three of William Shakespeare’s plays, has been wound up in the High Court in London for failing to record, manage or account for in excess of £3million of private investment funds, following a confidential investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.

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The investigation found that the company received investor funds of almost £6million. After paying commission to third party broker firms of some £3million, the investigation was unable to reconcile the remaining funds.

Whilst funds were claimed to have been used for production costs, Michael Cowan, the company’s former sole director, was unable to provide either a satisfactory explanation, nor adequate records to account for the company’s expenditure of the private investor’s funds. In addition, the latest financial statements prepared for Warlord showed that it was heavily balance sheet insolvent at 31 January 2014.

The company also failed to maintain records which accurately recorded investors, and as a result, the investigation was unable to identify investors who made investments in excess of £3million. This would have adversely affected the company’s ability to make payments to its investors should the film be completed and make a profit. Information provided to investors made unsubstantiated claims regarding well-known actors who had agreed to appear in the film.

Warlord Productions Ltd states it does not own the film rights, and that responsibility for filming is with another company.

The investigation was hampered not only by the lack of records, but also by Mr Cowan’s view that he was director ‘in name only’ and that responsibility for the company’s management lay elsewhere. When he resigned as director on 16 January 2015, the company was ‘abandoned’ with no-one in office to protect the investors’ position.

Commenting on the case, David Hill, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

This company appeared to be a film production company in name only as it seemed to do little or no ‘filming’ or producing’.

The Insolvency Service will investigate companies that are acting against the public interest and put them out of circulation.

Notes to editors

Warlord Productions Limited (company number 08379786) was incorporated as a private company on 29 January 2013 under the Companies Act 2006. Its 100% shareholder and sole director was Michael Lionello Cowan, who resigned as director on 16 January 2015. Its registered office was 14 Regent Hill, Brighton BN1 3ED.

The petition was presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 11 May 2015 and the winding-up order was made on 1 July 2915. Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations 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.

All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London, SW1P 2HT. Telephone: 0207 637 1110 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.

Published 9 July 2015