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4 September 2013, 14:31 | Updated: 4 September 2013, 15:36
One of the brothers convicted of misleading thousands of customers over a Lapland-style theme park near Ringwood has been banned from running a company for ten years.
Victor Robert Mears, the director of Lapland New Forest Limited, a company that traded as a Lapland style theme park from Matchams Leisure Park near Ringwood has been disqualified from acting as a director for ten years for failing to maintain, preserve or deliver adequate accounting records.
The disqualification, which was made at Brighton County Court and started on 17 July 2013, follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service. It prevents Mr Mears from acting as a director of a limited company for ten years until July 2023.
Lapland New Forest Limited went into voluntary liquidation in February 2009. The company had started ticket sales in September 2008 with the park opening to visitors on 29 November 2008. It was closed on 4 December 2008 following a number of issues.
The Insolvency Service investigation found that between 3 September 2008 and 22 December 2008, £1,283,056 was received into the company bank account and £1,284,309 was paid out.
However, Mr Mears failed to provide adequate books and records to properly account for expenditure of £222,955.45 from the bank account. Much of this money was drawn from the bank account in cash amounts of £10,000, £15,000 and £20,000.
Under cross examination at trial Mr Mears explained that the majority of this cash was then paid to an individual linked to the landlord of the park but that he did not obtain any receipts nor did he keep any contemporaneous record of the dates or amounts of such payments.
Commenting on the disqualification, Mark Bruce, a Chief Examiner at the Insolvency Service who gave evidence at the trial, said:
“Directors of companies must maintain sufficient accounting records that show and explain the company’s transactions. Mr Mears failed to do this and the volume of unexplained cash expenditure in such a short trading lifetime was highly suspicious. It required explanation supported by proof which Mr Mears was unable to provide.
“The 10-year disqualification given in this case shows that the court takes the failure to keep records seriously. Other directors who fail to keep sufficient proof of their company’s expenditure, especially cash, should expect similar treatment by the Insolvency Service.”