Three Swansea-based directors of Consortium Technology Ltd (Consortium), a company that misled the public into paying £ 12 million for services to reduce credit card debt or recover payment protection insurance (PPI), have been disqualified as directors for a combined 26 years.
Amrinder Patwal (32), Nicholas Stephen Harle (39) and Victoria Ruth Skivington (28) were found to have caused or allowed Consortium to mislead the public and were disqualified from acting in the capacity as directors. Mr Patwal was disqualified for 12 years from 29 May 2015, Mr Harle for 10 years from 18 February 2015 and Ms Skivington for 4 years from 10 March 2015.
An Insolvency Service investigation found that Consortium made inaccurate statements and omissions in cold calls and emails to the public. As a consequence, at least 2,264 claims were lodged, for which the promised services were never received.
Commenting on the disqualifications, Susan Macleod, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
These disqualifications send a clear message to other directors that, if they make misleading statements to customers, fail to deliver services which have been paid for or fail to refund money as promised, their conduct will be investigated by the Insolvency Service and they will be removed from the business environment.
Consortium was authorised by the Ministry of Justice to provide Claims Management Services. It cold-called members of the public and offered to challenge credit agreements for any non-compliance with the law. It also offered to challenge any errors in the agreement that could potentially render it unenforceable, and to examine the potential mis-selling of PPI.
Customers were required to pay an upfront fee of £495 + 10% of the outstanding debt + VAT for this service. The turnover generated by Consortium before it went into liquidation was over £12million.
No steps were taken to inform customers of the complex law surrounding the company’s promises or that only courts could determine whether or not an agreement was unenforceable. As a result Consortium was unable to keep these promises in any of the 2,264 claims identified by the Insolvency Service during its investigation.
Consortium also misled customers by promising to refund in full the upfront fees if a claim failed or if an agreement was declared unenforceable. Instead, the liquidator received claims worth approximately £842,345 from people who did not receive the services or the refunds promised by Consortium. A further 948 customers recovered over £1million from their credit card providers since Consortium never delivered the services or made the refunds as promised.
Consortium also omitted to inform customers of the time required to process these claims and that extra fees might be required when a third party was appointed to handle the legal aspects of these claims.
Consortium Technology Ltd was incorporated on 29 March 2009 (Company Registration No. 068602050) and was authorised by the Ministry of Justice on 12 April 2010 to provide claims management services.