Press release

Coloured diamond peddler gets 13-year director disqualification

Mark Francis Cooney has been disqualified as a director for selling coloured diamonds as an investment at vastly inflated prices.

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Mr Cooney was a designated member of London-based Reco Commodities LLP (Reco). He has signed a disqualification undertaking which means he is disqualified from 19 December 2016 and cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2029.

His disqualification follows an investigation by the Official Receiver at 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, also of the Insolvency Service, into the affairs of the company.

The investigations uncovered that Reco telephoned individuals, selling them coloured diamonds on the basis they were suitable as an investment. The company inflated the price of the diamonds by hundreds of percent meaning that they were not suitable as an investment. As a result, customers are owed at least £413,155.10.

Commenting on this case Anthony Hannon, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit, said:

The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers to investigate and disqualify directors whose companies defraud the public. This lengthy disqualification will protect the public and act as a deterrent to others.

Notes to Editors

Reco Commodities LLP (Company Registration Number OC387459) was incorporated on 23 August 2013.

The petition to wind up the partnership was presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovations and Skills (now the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 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, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The winding up order against Reco was made on 4 March 2014.

On 21 November 2016, Mr Cooney signed a disqualification undertaking for a period of 13 years. The period of disqualification will commence on 19 December 2016.

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.

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 6404 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk.

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Published 16 December 2016