David Topping has been disqualified from acting as a director for eight years for failing to keep adequate accounting records for Cresta Furniture, following a hearing at Preston County Court on 7 February 2013.
Topping, now living in Spain, resigned as a director of Cresta Furniture, based in Preston, on 30 June 2008, transferring the entire shareholding to his Cyprus registered company. Following this transfer, a Paul Vella of Malta was appointed director.
The investigation found detailed evidence that despite having resigned, David Topping continued to be in control of Cresta acting through others, exercising control by email and by phone.
Vella had no involvement in the running of the company and had allowed his name to be used for a fee. He signed a disqualification undertaking for two and a half years on 24 October 2011 in relation to his involvement in the company.
Cresta went into administration on 18 February 2010 owing £1,145,277 to creditors and leaving a large number of customers missing the furniture they had ordered.
A key finding of the investigation was that Topping failed to ensure that Cresta kept adequate accounting records as required by law. When the administrators searched the company premises following their appointment, they were unable to locate the company stock or the computer server.
When the computer server was finally delivered up to the administrators they found that it only contained records as far as 2005. As a result the administrators were unable to:
- contact all creditors notably regarding customer deposits. Only £56,344 of the outstanding £266,666 of customer deposits for furniture were able to be identified and verified.
- verify the amounts Topping and a former director owed to the company in the directors' loan account, which was overdrawn by £233,817 as at 30 June 2008.
- verify its acquisition of stock, sales and the disposal of stock between 01 July 2008 and the date of administration. As at 30 June 2008 Cresta's stock was £359,294.
Claire Entwistle, director of company investigations North at the Insolvency Service, said: "Directors cannot expect to hide behind others in order to disguise their role in running a company. Actions such as these are serious misconduct and customers have lost significant amounts of money.
"The period of disqualification given to Topping is evidence of the how seriously such matters are regarded and the Insolvency Service will investigate all such activities and take action against the perpetrators."
David Topping's date of birth is 5 October 1952 and Paul Vella's date of birth is 25 December 1947. Cresta Furniture was incorporated on 17 April 1978 and David Topping was appointed a director on 14 August 1991.