Press release

Plymouth property developer disqualified for 8 years

A property developer from Plymouth has been banned from running companies for eight years after he failed to keep adequate records of his business.

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David John Trathen [64] was the director of Rocco Primrose Limited (RPL) which developed housing on an old school site formerly owned by Plymouth City Council.

Formerly known as Trathen Lewis Limited, RPL was first incorporated in August 2013 and traded for around three and a half years before entering into creditors’ voluntary liquidation in April 2017 with an estimated deficiency of £416,353.

Independent insolvency practitioners were appointed to wind up the company but their job was made difficult by the fact that David Trathen failed to deliver adequate accounting records showing the true nature of the company’s business.

Further investigations by the Insolvency Service found that from at least June 2016 to the end of the business in February 2017, David Trathen failed to ensure that RPL maintained adequate accounting records.

This meant it was impossible to account for various payments out of the business, explain the source of credits to RPL’s bank account, what RPL owed to HMRC in taxes, as well as determining the amount of remuneration, if any, received by David Trathen.

In one example, investigators were unable to account for at least £141,000 of RPL’s income, generated from the sale of 20 building plots of land now known as Lilford Gardens – the former site of West Park Primary School in Wanstead Grove.

In another example, investigators could not explain why there had been more than £407,000 worth of expenditure from RPL’s bank account and whether this related to genuine company expenses.

And because of the lack adequate accounting records, investigators could not determine whether David Trathen’s statement of affairs in the liquidation was accurate and the real reason why RPL failed as a business.

As a result, the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from David Trathen, and from 1 May 2018, he is banned from running companies, both directly and indirectly, for 8 years.

Dave Elliott, Head of Insolvent Investigations (Midlands & West) for the Insolvency Service said:

Directors have a duty to ensure that companies maintain proper accounting records, and, following insolvency, deliver them to the office-holder.

Without such records, it is not possible to determine whether or not a director has discharged his duties properly, or is using a lack of documentation as a cloak for other wrongdoing.

Notes to editors

Rocco Primrose Ltd (formerly Trathen Lewis Ltd) (CRO No. 8651577) was incorporated on 15 August 2013 and its registered office was at 6 Houndiscombe Road, Plymouth and it traded from 2 Mariners Court, North Quay, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth, PL4 0BS as property developers.

Mr Trathen was a director from 15 August 2013 onwards. The company went into creditors’ voluntary liquidation on 11 April 2017 with an estimated deficiency of £416,353.

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 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 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 29 June 2018