A director of a media and advertising company has been banned from being a director after faking the company’s financial position to fraudulently claim the maximum amount in bounce back loans
Nicola Chambers, a director of Chambers Media Ltd, from Brighton, claimed a bounce back loan that she was not entitled to by providing false information in her application, to receive the maximum amount available of £50,000.
In the application dated 11 May 2020, Chambers stated that her business, Chambers Media Ltd, was not insolvent and that it was engaged in trading or commercial activity on 31 December 2019.
However, Chambers knew, by 22 November 2019, that the business was insolvent and owed HMRC nearly £180,000 in unpaid taxes. It sold its business and assets and ceased to trade on 2 March 2020. Bounce back loans were launched on 4 May 2020 so clearly no checks were made into whether the business was even operating.
Despite this, she successfully obtained the £50,000 loan, which was paid into the business bank account on 14 May 2020. It was not used for the economic benefit of the business, contrary to the terms of the bounce-back loan scheme.
The day before the loan was credited, Chambers had a bank balance of £3,974.52. Just three days later, on 19 May 2020, the balance on the business account was £833.40.
Once distributed, she withdrew £7,500 from the business, paid a further £17,000 to other directors and transferred £25,000 to a connected company.
On top of this, Chambers also failed to ensure that the business paid outstanding tax with £33,925 in unpaid PAYE and National Insurance, and a VAT bill of £116,151.
HMRC submitted a claim in the liquidation for £188,501.95, claiming that VAT returns were only paid to February 2017, and submitted for May to November 2017, which were not paid when due.
For 2019/20 a total of £40,941 in PAYE and national insurance contributions (NICs) became due and £3,000 employment allowance was given. The company was therefore due to pay £37,941.
Two payments were allocated to the 2019/29 year, totalling £4,052.34. The last payment made to PAYE was on 5 June 2019.
Chambers also owed £17,100, plus a penalty of £3,620, in corporation tax for the year ending February 2019. The business has not yet made any payments towards these sums.
HMRC’s proof of debt stands at a preferential £178,276.74 and non-preferential of £10,225.21. Most payments to HMRC ceased around mid-2019.
Analysis of the accounts for 2018 and 2019 and the subsequent Statement of Affairs showed that while other creditors have been paid off, and trade creditors are owed a very low amount, the HMRC liability has continued to increase significantly over time. The only other substantial liability at liquidation was the bounce back loan payment.
Chambers received a director disqualification of 12 years, meaning that she cannot act as a director of any company registered in the UK or an overseas company.
Her sister, Donna Chambers, who was also a director of the company, was given a four-year disqualification order.