Press release

Financial controller given 14 year bankruptcy restriction for misappropriating funds from his employer

William Lee Fenton, a financial controller, has given a 14 year Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking for misappropriating £90,326 from his employer. No repayments were made to his employer, who petitioned for his bankruptcy, leading to his bankruptcy in October 2013.

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Mr Fenton’s restriction follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Mr Fenton (40) has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, to be bound for 14 years, by the restrictions set out in insolvency law that a bankrupt is subject to until they are discharged from bankruptcy – normally 12 months – until 2029. In addition, he cannot manage or control a company during this period without leave of the court.

Mr Fenton’s misappropriations occurred over the course of twelve months in 2012 and 2013.

The investigation found that between 13 February 2012 and 31 January 2013, Mr Fenton changed the details on supplier invoices so that payments made against those invoices would go into his personal bank account and not into supplier’s accounts as intended. He used the monies to fund a lifestyle beyond his actual means. At the date of his bankruptcy order, he owed his employer, banks and other financial institutions.

On 22 October 2013, a Bankruptcy Order was made against Mr Fenton, on the petition of his employer. His total debts were £159,247.

Commenting on the case Carol Butler, Official Receiver for Exeter, said:

The Insolvency Service will look closely at any evidence of misconduct and take appropriate action where others have suffered as a result of a bankrupt’s actions, as has happened in Mr Fenton’s case.

Mr Fenton is currently being investigated by the police to determine whether criminal proceedings should be instigated.

Notes to editors

The bankruptcy order was made on 22 October 2013, following a petition brought by Mr Fenton’s employers Mr Fenton’s date of birth is 17 January 1975.

If the Official Receiver considers that the conduct of a bankrupt has been dishonest or blameworthy in some other way, he (or she) will report the facts to court and ask for a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order (BRO) to be made. The court will consider this report and any other evidence put before it, and will decide whether it should make a BRO. If it does, the bankrupt will be subject to certain restrictions for the period stated in the order. This can be from 2 to 15 years.

The bankrupt may instead agree to a Bankruptcy Restrictions Undertaking (BRU) which has the same effect as an order, but will mean that the matter does not go to court.

These are restrictions set out in insolvency law that the bankrupt is subject to until they are discharged from bankruptcy – normally 12 months and include that bankrupts:

  • must disclose their status to a credit provider if they wish to get credit of more than £500
  • who carry on business in a different name from the name in which they were made bankrupt, they must disclose to those they wish to do business with the name (or trading style) under which they were made bankrupt
  • may not act as the director of a company nor take part in its promotion, formation or management unless they have a court’s permission to do so
  • may not act as an insolvency practitioner, or as the receiver or manager of the property of a company on behalf of debenture holders

Additionally, a person subject to a Bankruptcy Restrictions Order/Undertaking or a Debt Relief Restrictions Order/Undertaking, may not be a Member of Parliament in England or Wales.

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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Published 22 October 2015