Press release

Director who took £273,000 from Hemel insurance firm banned for 11 years

Stephen Fox, the director of Hemel Hempstead-based S J Stoddart Limited, has been disqualified from acting as a director for a period of 11 years for misappropriating company funds of at least £273,774.

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An investigation by the Insolvency Service found Mr Fox caused payments to be made from company accounts to his own personal account in the period from 8 October 2014 to 5 August 2015. Mr Fox concealed what he had done by giving the transactions false descriptions to be shown in the company’s bank statements.

Mr Fox was a director from January 1996 until he resigned on 10 August 2015. The company went into liquidation on 24 August 2015 with an estimated deficiency of £81,547.

On 17 November 2016, the Secretary of State accepted a Disqualification Undertaking from Mr Fox, effective from 8 December 2016, for a period of 11 years.

On 5 September 2016, Mr Fox pleaded guilty to a charge of theft at Luton Crown Court.

Commenting on the disqualification, Sue MacLeod, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

Mr Fox misappropriated company funds, causing detriment to the company and its creditors, to his own personal benefit.

Company directors should note from this enforcement result that actions of this kind will lead to serious censure.

This disqualification is a reminder to others tempted to do the same that the Insolvency Service will rigorously pursue enforcement action and seek to remove from them the privilege of trading with limited liability to protect the public for a lengthy period.

Notes to editors

Mr Fox’s date of birth is August 1967 and he resides in Hemel Hempstead.

S J Stoddard Limited (CRO No. 01364854) was incorporated on 24 April 1978 and provided insurance services.

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 2 December 2016