Company director from Punjab banned for misusing UK COVID-19 loan
London: A 42-year-old Indian-born business manager who failed to account for around £45,000 (about ₹43 lakh) of a UK government COVID-19 support loan for businesses has been banned from operating a business for seven years.
Rupinder Kaur Thaker, from Essex in south east England, was appointed director of TKML Limited in April 2016 when the company was incorporated.
The UK Insolvency Service said questions persisted over what TKML Limited had done with a £45,000 bounce-back loan and whether the company was even entitled to a loan of that size.
Effective next Tuesday, Thaker is prohibited from engaging directly or indirectly in the promotion, formation or management of any business, without court permission.
“Despite repeated requests for books and records, Rupinder Thaker did not provide the liquidator with any evidence that could help explain the legitimacy of the company’s financial affairs,” said Lawrence Zussman, deputy director of bankruptcy investigations. .
“In particular the £45,000 rebound loan to support viable businesses during the pandemic. Rupinder Thaker has been removed from the business environment for seven years and his lengthy disqualification provides a clear warning that failing to hold the company books and records is a serious offence,” he said.
TKML Limited went into creditors’ voluntary liquidation in 2021 and the company’s insolvency triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Investigators first discovered several inconsistencies in the explanations Thaker provided when asked about the company.
TKML Limited’s listing on the companies register indicated the nature of the business as takeaway shops and mobile food stalls, and Thaker’s profession as a publicist.
But in the report to creditors, the company was described as providing catering services and decoration supplies for wedding ceremonies.
Further investigations revealed that between May 2019 and the time the company went bankrupt in June 2021, the director of the company failed to keep and/or maintain adequate accounting records or failed to hand them over to the liquidator .
This means that the investigators could not verify several important transactions.
Apart from the loan, more than £250,000 paid into the company’s bank account remains unexplained and doubts persist as to the accuracy of the £11,000 claimed by Thaker to be owed to her and a related company.
Earlier this month, UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng accepted a seven-year disqualification undertaking from Rupinder Thaker after she did not dispute that it “failed to ensure that TKML Limited kept and/or maintained adequate accounting records, or, in the alternative, failed to provide adequate accounting records to the liquidator”.
Forfeiture undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a forfeiture order but do not involve court proceedings.
Individuals subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of other business restrictions.