An investigation by the Insolvency Service found Mr Amaya-Torres caused or allowed the company, by its employees or agents, to cause customers to purchase land at an overvalue by making misleading statements and/or by failing to provide complete information to those customers.
Mr Amaya-Torres was the sole director of the company from 29 January 2007 until it ceased trading, going into Liquidation on 5 December 2013, with an estimated deficiency of £2,167,388.
Following an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Mr Amaya-Torres has accepted a disqualification undertaking on 8 January 19, 2016, for a period of 14 years, which is due to commence on 1 February 2016.
The investigation found misleading statements were made by Towers’ sales agents on the phone and in a variety of written marketing materials. Customers were led to believe that the parcels of land sold by Towers would soon obtain planning permission, when in reality there was little prospect of this. Towers also failed to inform customers of vital information, such as the risks of making an investment, the planning history in relation to the land, and the planning restrictions that applied at the time of the sale. The land was sold for up to 23 times what it had cost Towers to buy.
In 2011 Towers was subject to enforcement action by Trading Standards and the company eventually agreed to include prominent warnings in their promotional literature. However, buyers who had purchased land prior to December 2011 told the Insolvency Service that they would not have done so if Towers had provided them with all the relevant information.
The Liquidator of Towers has received claims totaling £2,046,488 from customers who purchased land.
Commenting on the disqualification, Anthea Simpson, Head of Company Investigations at the Insolvency Service, said:
Directors of companies that mislead customers into making risky ‘investments’ can expect their actions to be vigorously investigated by the Insolvency Service once the company enters liquidation. The length of the disqualification sends a clear message to others of how seriously such misconduct is considered by the Secretary of State and that it will be firmly dealt with.
Notes to editors
Mr Amaya-Torres’ date of birth is 9 July 1965 and he resides in Brighton, East Sussex.
Towers Property Development Limited (CRO No. 06072558) was incorporated on 29 January 2007 and its registered office was 201 Dyke Road, Hove, BN3 1TL.
The matters of unfitness were that: Mr Amaya-Torres caused or allowed Towers, by its employees or agents, to cause customers, by making misleading statements and/or by failing to provide complete information, to purchase land at an overvalue from 2008 onwards.
A disqualification undertaking 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.
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