Press release

Supplier disqualified for facilitating sale of unsuitable investments

12 year disqualification secured against Stephen John Coles following an Insolvency Service investigation.

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Stephen John Coles, a director of Met-X Corp. Limited (“Met-X”), a company based in London which supplied Rare Earth Metals (“REMs”) to companies for onward sale to members of the public, has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to be disqualified as a director for 12 years.
An Insolvency Service investigation found Mr Coles facilitated the sale of REMs to members of the public for investment and did not maintain and/or preserve records, and also did not deliver adequate records to the Official Receiver

The disqualification regime exists to protect the public. Mr Coles’ disqualification, from 26 October, means he cannot promote, manage, or be a director of a limited company until 2028.

This disqualification follows investigation by the Official Receiver at the Public Interest Unit (PIU), a specialist team of the Insolvency Service. The PIU’s involvement commenced with the winding up of the company in the public interest following an investigation by Company Investigations, another part of the Insolvency Service, into the affairs of the company.

The Official Receiver’s investigation uncovered that from 2012 Met-X had supplied REMs to broker companies who sold the REMs onwards to members of the public as an investment. Mr Coles knew and chose to ignore, or knew that the REMs were wholly unsuitable as an investment, as there was no market for REMs without industry certification and in the quantities sold by Met-X.

Commenting on this case Anthony Hannon, Official Receiver in the Public Interest Unit, said:

Mr Coles ought to have been aware that his corporate customers were selling Rare Earth Metals to the public when he knew they were wholly unsuitable as an investment. Our investigators challenged Mr Coles’ attempts to distance himself from this objectionable trade resulting in a significant ban on him being a director.

Notes to Editors

Met-X Corp. Limited (CRN: 08234749) was incorporated on 1 October 2012. Its trading address was at 9 Devonshire Square, London EC2M 4YF.

The petition to wind up the company was presented by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (formerly Business, Innovation and Skills) in the public interest following an investigation conducted by Company Investigations (Live), another specialist unit within the Insolvency Service which uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 (as amended) to conduct confidential enquiries into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State. The winding up order against Met-X Corp. Limited was made on 4 February 2015.

On 1 March 2016, Stephen John Coles signed a disqualification undertaking for a period of 12 years. The period of disqualification will commence on 26 October 2016.

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 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.

All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit (South), The Insolvency Service, 2nd Floor, 4 Abbey Orchard Street, London SW1P 2HT. Tel: 020 7637 6578 Email: piu.or@insolvency.gsi.gov.uk

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Published 18 November 2016