Director disqualified after £13m solar panel scam

Stephen-Rievaulx Wilson, the director of a company that duped customers by offering a bogus cash back scheme for purchasing solar panels, has been disqualified for 13 years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Wilson, 51, of Liverpool gave an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills on 7 November 2013 not to promote, manage or be a director of a limited company until December 2026. The period of disqualification started in August 2013.

Solar Energy Savings Ltd was wound up by the Court in the Public Interest on 26 July 2012 owing creditors and shareholders £13,833,694.

The investigation found that as an incentive to install solar panels, customers were offered a "cash back guarantee" that they would be repaid 100% of the cost in five to seven years. Solar misled customers by issuing certificates falsely claiming that the guarantee was backed by a large financial institution. In fact, Solar had no scheme in place to enable it to make the promised payments to customers and no contract was in place with any institution to safeguard the monies owed.

Claims totalling £11,847,589 have been received from 1,014 customers who entered the cash back scheme.

The company was compulsorily wound up on 26 July 2012. There were assets of £2,171,576, liabilities of £13,883,693, and an estimated deficiency to creditors of £11,662,117. The registered office of Solar is currently The Lexicon, Mount Street in Manchester. In the six months prior to the liquidation the office was situated at Global House, Baileys Lane at Manchester Airport.

Ken Beasley, official receiver of the Insolvency Service's public interest unit, said: "Many unsuspecting members of the public were misled by Solar and decisions to purchase costly solar panels were based on money back guarantees. Mr Wilson provided these customers with literature and glossy brochures falsely representing the cash back scheme to induce them to enter into contracts.

"Mr Wilson's disqualification demonstrates that the Insolvency Service investigates serious director misconduct and exercises its enforcement powers to remove dishonest and unscrupulous directors from the market place."

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