Lancashire couple disqualified after Iberian scam

Two directors of a company that claimed to act as a sales agency selling properties in Spain and Portugal have been disqualified for eight years each, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service's company investigations team in Manchester.

Husband and wife, William Mark Bingham, 44, and Janet Anne Bingham, 53, of Aughton, Lancashire have both given undertakings banning them from managing or controlling a company or being directors until July 2019.

The investigation found Millennium Property Investment Limited, which traded as 'Owner Invest', never completed a sale throughout its existence. At the time the company was placed into liquidation on 19 March 2009 it had an estimated deficiency to creditors of £757,908.

Robert Burns, head of investigations and enforcement at the Insolvency Service, said: "The Insolvency Service found no evidence that a single sale was ever completed on behalf of customers who paid deposits on properties in Spain and Portugal through 'Owner Invest'. Anyone considering purchasing a property overseas should ensure they use a recommended sales agency and that they take independent legal advice before committing to any contact."

In signing the undertakings, the directors did not dispute that whilst directors of Millennium Property Investments Limited, they failed to ensure that deposits totaling £435,814 taken from 82 customers from February 2008 to March 2009, were either paid over to the developer or refunded causing those customers to lose at least £435,814. They also failed to ensure that Millennium maintained and or preserved any accounting records and failed to deliver up such accounting records to, or cooperate with, the Joint Liquidators.

In the absence of accounting records for Millennium and or satisfactory explanations it has not been possible to verify the financial dealings of the company and ensure that all the assets and monies of the company have been properly accounted for.

Millennium Property Investment Limited was incorporated in August 2007 and entered voluntary creditors liquidation on 19 March 2009. Mr and Mrs Bingham were appointed at the date of incorporation and remained directors up to liquidation.

There is no evidence that Millennium completed any sales between February 2008 and 19 March 2009. In the same period 82 customers are known to have placed deposits but sales were not completed.

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