Knowles faces four year directorship ban

Lancashire property investor Tim Knowles, best known for Chorley's Botany Bay retail mill, has been banned from becoming a director of any company for four years, following an investigation into one of his businesses.

Knowles, who claims to own £500m of property through his investment vehicle, First Investments, was disqualified until 2011 after a Department of Trade and Industry investigation into the failure of lettings business Baysouth. Knowles was managing director of Baysouth, which was placed into voluntary liquidation in 2002. The disqualification resulted from Baysouth continuing to trade while insolvent and failure to make any tax payments, including VAT.

Knowles said: "In the eyes of corporate law, the buck stops with me, and I acknowledge that fully. I am only grateful that the judge imposed a reduced period for disqualification and granted a Section 17, which means I can take my business interests forward."

The First Investment portfolio amounts to around 8m sq ft and Knowles has ambitions to double its net asset value to £1bn.

The judge said Knowles is allowed to continue as managing director of First Investments, and as a director of more than two dozen other property companies, so long as a qualified accountant is appointed non-executive director.

Knowles, who denied any financial impropriety, said the experience had been a "chastening" one.

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