Switched off: connected companies that duped gas engineers
Combined Maintenance Services Ltd and One Stop Safety Maintenance UK Ltd, associated companies, which persuaded numerous gas engineers to pay advance fees in return for the future provision of work, have been wound up by the High Court in Manchester.
The companies were ordered into liquidation following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
In spite of claims made, the companies failed to provide few, if any of the services they claimed they could.
The Court heard that the companies:
- deliberately used dishonest and misleading statements to induce gas engineers to pay an advance fee, typically of £2,000, to receive work in defined postcode areas;
- provided little or no work to the gas engineers in return for these fees;
- operated an unsustainable business model, including failing to pay tax from the outset of their trading and failing to make provision for refunds to which the gas engineers were contractually entitled as a result of not being provided with the promised work;
- lacked transparency as to the identity of the individuals involved in the management and operation of the companies, with staff frequently using pseudonyms when dealing with the gas engineers;
- and that, when the companies did provide work to gas engineers, they collected payments directly from the clients and on many occasions failed to pay these amounts over to the gas engineers.
Although having their registered office addresses in London, the companies traded from premises in Ayrshire, Scotland. The combined turnover of the companies was in excess of half a million pounds.
Commenting on the case, Colin Cronin, Investigation Supervisor, said
These companies cynically solicited payments from hardworking gas engineers on the false basis that the gas engineers would be provided with substantial future work. The companies knew that they were not in a position to provide the promised work and nor would they ever be.
These winding up proceedings show that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner.
Notes to editors
Combined Maintenance Services Ltd – company registration number 08383165 - was incorporated on 31 January 2013. Its registered office is at First Floor, 2 Woodberry Grove, North Finchley, London N12 0DR. The company should not be confused with Combined Maintenance Service Ltd, with which it has no connection.
One Stop Safety Maintenance UK Ltd – company registration number 7695888 - was incorporated on 6 July 2011. Its registered office is at 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PW.
The petitions to wind-up the companies were presented under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 27 October 2014. Combined Maintenance Services Ltd was wound up on 6 November 2014. One Stop Safety Maintenance UK Ltd was wound up on 20 November 2014. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator of each company.
Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, uses powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Further information about live company investigations can be found on our [website}(https://www.gov.uk/complain-about-a-limited-company).
The Insolvency Service also administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. 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, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester, M1 3BN. Tel: 0161 234 8531 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published: 17 December 2014
From: The Insolvency Service