Press release

Official Receiver pours cold water on water intermediary

Peter Kaye and Maureen Murphy, the two directors of Smartsource Drainage & Water Reports Limited (Smartsource) have been disqualified for a total of 19 years for allowing the company to file inaccurate accounts to the Registrar of Companies.

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The company offered cut price water supplies to commercial and residential customers.

Their disqualifications follow an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

The investigation found that Mr Kaye and Mrs Murphy, both of whom had backgrounds in the water industry, had caused or allowed Smartsource to file inaccurate accounts with the Registrar of Companies showing the company’s financial position to be significantly better than it actually was. This encouraged a number of customers to register for Smartsource’s services when they otherwise would not have done. Eight of those customers consequently incurred losses of £1.4 million.

Mr Kaye’s disqualification, for 11 years, from December and Mrs Murphy’s for 8 years from August 2015, mean they can not be directors of a company whether directly or indirectly, or be involved in the management of a company in any way for the duration of their disqualifications.

Smartsource offered an annual discount of 8.3% to its customers on water supplies and promised to fix customers’ water rates for a period of 4 years. The company was however obliged to pay the water companies for the full value of water supplied, meaning it sought to make a profit in a number of ways including implementing water saving measures. These included correcting billing and tariff errors and ensuring that customers were not paying unnecessarily for surface water drainage.

Smartsource’s financial position deteriorated in 2013 and it became unable to pay debts accruing to water companies as and when they fell due. Its customers, having had paid significant sums of money to Smartsource (up to £750,000 each) in consideration for water supplies, were in a number of cases forced to pay money, already paid to Smartsource, directly to the water suppliersin order to avert disconnection.

The investigation also found that the two directors had caused or allowed Smartsource to continue trading at a point when they knew or ought to have known that it was insolvent and unable to pay its debts. As a consequence, creditors incurred losses of at least £5.4 million.

Ken Beasley, Official Receiver of the Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit (North), commented,

The misconduct perpetrated by the directors of Smartsource led to large losses being sustained by a number of significant commercial entities. The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to act in order to protect the marketplace from such behaviour. The lengthy disqualifications in this case reflect the severity of the misconduct.

Notes to Editors

Smartsource Drainage & Water Reports Limited (CRO No. 6721621) was incorporated on 13 October 2008. It traded from 5 locations in and around Reading; its registered office address was at 200 Brook Drive, Green Park, Reading RG2 6UB.

The petition to wind up Smartsource was presented to the Court on 6 August 2013. The winding up order against Smartsource was made on 30 September 2013. The Official Receiver in Reading was initially appointed as liquidator. Subsequently, Kevin Mawer of Forensic Recovery Limited was appointed as liquidator in the Official Receiver’s place.

On liquidation, it was found that Smartsource had no realisable assets and estimated liabilities of £6,071,041. The issued and paid up share capital was £100 giving an overall deficiency as regards creditors and members of £6,071,141.

On 18 November 2015, Peter William Dean Kaye (of Berkshire, date of birth 13 February 1974) signed a disqualification undertaking for a period of 11 years. The period of disqualification commences on 10 December 2015.

On 1 August 2015, Maureen Agnes Murphy (of Berkshire, date of birth 28 May 1954) signed a disqualification undertaking for a period of 8 years. The period of disqualification commenced on 27 August 2015.

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

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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Published 15 December 2015