Eight year ban for expat furniture company boss

A BOSS of a failed Lancashire furniture company has been banned from acting as a company director for eight years for failing to keep good accounting records.

David Topping, 61, who now lives in Spain was banned at a hearing at Preston County Court on February 7.

Mr Topping, had resigned as a director of Cresta Furniture (Cresta) based in Preston, in June 2008, transferring the entire shareholding to his Cyprus registered company.

Following this transfer, a Paul Vella of Malta was appointed director.

An investigation by the Insolvency Service 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.

Mr 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 October 24 2011 in relation to his involvement in the company.

Cresta went into administration in February 2010 owing £1,14m to creditors and leaving a large number of customers missing the furniture they had ordered.

A key finding of the investigation was that Mr Topping failed to ensure that Cresta kept adequate accounting records as required by law.

When 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 located the administrators found that it only contained records as far as 2005. As a result they were unable to contact all creditors notably regarding customer deposits.

In addition only £56,344 of the outstanding £266,666 of customer deposits for furniture were able to be identified and verified.

They were unable also to check the amounts Mr Topping and another  former director owed to the company in the directors’ loan account, which was overdrawn by £233,817 as at June 30  2008.

Commenting on the case, 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 Mr 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.”