Press release

Restaurateur jailed for running companies while disqualified

A restaurateur with eateries in London’s West End has been jailed for 14 months after he continued to run companies despite previous ban.

placeholder

Following a joint investigation by the Insolvency Service and the Metropolitan Police, Sarkis Agop Kouyoumdjian (55), of Kensington High Street, West London, appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 14 September where he also received a nine year directorship disqualification.

The court heard that in November 2011, Sarkis Kouyoumdjian voluntarily accepted a disqualification undertaking in connection with the failure of a company that he was a director of which ran a restaurant and owed unpaid taxes. The disqualification meant that he was banned from running companies for four years without the permission of the courts.

However, Sarkis Kouyoumdjian ignored the ban which he had personally accepted and in direct contravention of his disqualification, between November 2011 and May 2014 continued to run two branches of Middle-Eastern restaurant, Massis, as well as Asian fusion restaurant, Cocochan.

In addition to running the restaurants and their connected companies without permission from the courts, Sarkis Kouyoumdjian carried out other offences.

Sarkis Kouyoumdjian ran the restaurants through two companies, Live London Limited and Plaha Catering & Events Limited, but use of the restaurants’ names had been banned through earlier insolvencies and Sarkis Kouyoumdjian’s connection with them.

He fraudulently transferred £59,000 to an associate from a company that he shouldn’t have been running shortly before it entered into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation and also failed to deliver to the liquidator all the files that were needed to help formally shut down the company.

And between 2012 and 2013 Sarkis Kouyoumdjian operated a property company, Tamarix Properties Limited.

The property company bought a number of flats in West London from another insolvent company connected to Sarkis Kouyoumdjian, using money from one of the restaurants he shouldn’t have been running. Sarkis Kouyoumdjian also used money from Tamarix Properties to benefit one of the companies connected to the restaurants.

On 5 September at Southwark Crown Court, Sarkis Kouyoumdjian pleaded guilty to four counts of running companies while disqualified, two counts of using a prohibited company name, as well as one count of fraudulently removing property in anticipation of the commencement of the winding up of a company and another count of failing to deliver up books and records to a liquidator.

Ian West, Deputy Chief Investigation Officer of the Insolvency Service, said:

Sarkis Kouyoumdjian knew exactly what he’d signed up for when he accepted his four-year disqualification but he brazenly ignored its restrictions and continued running restaurants and a property company.

This was a flagrant abuse of company and insolvency law and thanks to the joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police, Sarkis Kouyoumdjian’s sentence should serve as a warning to others that such abuses will be investigated and disqualifications will be enforced.

Detective Inspector Andy Brien of the Metropolitan Police Service said:

This is a prime example of how the Metropolitan Police working together with agencies such as the Insolvency Service can bring offenders to justice. Sarkis Kouyoumdjian showed a complete disregard for the law using companies to build personal gain.

Notes to editors

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 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.

Contact Press Office

Media enquiries for this press release – 020 7637 6498

Press Office

The Insolvency Service

4 Abbey Orchard Street
London
SW1P 2HT

This service is for journalists only. For any other queries, please contact the Insolvency Enquiry line on 0300 678 0015.

For all media enquiries outside normal working hours, please contact the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Press Office on 020 7215 1000.

You can also follow the Insolvency Service on:

Published 18 September 2018