Fraudulent fashion, film and Olympic costume company ordered into liquidation by High Court
A small London clothing company that changed ownership in 2014 and afterwards claimed to produce a range of clothing from high-end fashion to Saville Row tailoring, casual fashion, uniforms, film and theatre costumes, has been ordered into liquidation on grounds of public interest.
The petition presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, was issued following confidential enquiries carried out by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.
The investigation revealed that the company was latterly run solely as a vehicle for fraud.
The company falsely claimed its portfolio included a number of leading fashion names and that it had worked alongside and provided costumes for major films such as Batman (“the suit for Two Faces”), Young Victoria (“capes for Queen Victoria”) and Harry Potter (“orphanage scene”) and that “the one we are proud of from our portfolio is the costumes for the opening and closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics”.
The Court heard that the investigation had uncovered false accounts, false bank statements and other fabricated information to give the appearance of a company operating a significant and credit-worthy business in order to seek to obtain significant credit causing significant losses to the businesses targeted.
Welcoming the Court’s winding up decisions, Chris Mayhew, Company Investigations Supervisor at the Insolvency Service, said:
The company’s portfolio claims were remarkable ‘achievements’, as the company was not incorporated until December 2010, and at the time of the 2012 Olympics had reported net assets of around only £5,000.
Whilst initially carrying on business as a small garment manufacturer, the company latterly specialised instead in repeated fraud, producing incongruous statements and false accounts to portray a radical improvement in its fortunes in order to drive away with Porches, Audi’s, Mercedes Benz, Land Rover Sports vehicles and computer equipment with no intention of paying for them.
I would urge businesses approached for credit to question why a potential new corporate customer would choose to back-date the appointment of its sole recorded officer, in this case a Rayan Del, and to file accounts showing significant and inexplicable trading and assets at a time when it had no presence at its registered office and apparent trading address.
We work closely with a number of partners such as Companies House to prevent the abuse of the corporate regime by such lack of transparency, and the Insolvency Service will continue to investigate and bring to a halt companies harming or about to harm legitimate business by operating in this way.
Typically, this type of fraud can inflict losses on legitimate business of around £200,000 and in this case, goods and services on credit of at least £369,676 were obtained by the company.
Notes to Editors:
Toumazi and Co Ltd (company registration number 07458559) was incorporated on 02 December 2010. The registered office of the company throughout has been Eftakomi House, 112 Vale Road, London, N4 1PL. The recorded directors of the company are shown to have been:
- Sital Punja (described as a company director) from incorporation to 6 December 2013.
- Thomas Toumazi (described as a dress manufacturer) from incorporation to 20 January 2011 and subsequently shown to have been appointed from 2 January 2013 to 20 December 2014.
- Nima Rayan Del (described as a company director) from 1 August 2014 to present date.
No company secretary is shown to have been appointed.
Abbreviated accounts for each of the three years ending 31 December 2011, 2012 and 2013 whilst the company was under the control of Mrs Punja and Mr Toumazi were filed reporting a modest clothing business having assets of £19,698, liabilities of £10,418 and accumulated profits of £9,180 as at 31 December 2013.
Following the filing on 24 November 2014 of Mr Rayan Del’s appointment on 01 August 2014 as a director, abbreviated accounts for the year ending 31 December 2014 approved by him on 31 December 2014 were filed. These purported to show a substantial improvement in the company’s financial position, with reported fixed assets of £274,366 (previous year £7,724), current assets of £201,018 (previous year £11,974) and a profit for the year of £391,458 (previous year £4,024).
The company operated two websites: www.toumazifashion.com and www.toumaziandco.com
The company sought credit from suppliers and obtained goods of at least £369,676 comprising a Mercedes Benz M Class, a Mercedes Benz A Class, an Audi A4, an Audi SQ5, a Audi A3, a Porsche Panamera, two Land Rover Sports, a fuel card and a trade exchange card.
Unsuccessful applications for credit of at least £290,427 were also made for a range of goods including a Toyota Land Cruiser, an RAC credit card, mobile phones, building goods, computer equipment, office supplies, financial products and designer menswear.
The petition to wind up the company in the public interest was presented in the High Court on 14 January 2016.
The main public interest ground for winding up the company was that it was being used as a vehicle for the commission of fraud.
In ordering the company into liquidation on grounds of public interest on 2 March 2016 Mr Registrar Jones said:
… there has been no response by the company to the evidence before me and the petition is unopposed … the grounds relied upon by the Secretary of State can be summarised as follows … firstly, the company is a vehicle for the commission of fraud … secondly, the sole director and shareholder Mr Del has failed to co-operate with the investigation … thirdly, the company has been abandoned … I am quite satisfied that the company was being operated for criminal purposes … there is clear criminal behaviour …. the only conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence is that the company was a vehicle for a criminal purpose and, in these circumstances, it is plain that it is expedient in public interest and just and equitable that the company be wound up and I do so order.
Companies House deals with complaints about companies that fail to file documents like annual accounts or returns, or file fraudulent documents.
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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.
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Published: 4 March 2016
From: The Insolvency Service