Director of Blackburn automotive business banned over £50k COVID-19 funding

A director of a vehicle body repair company took a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan, even though the company was no longer trading.

Anthony Stephen Miller, 48, from Blackburn was director of Millers Commercial Refinishers Ltd which traded from July 2017 until early 2020, after which it went into liquidation in June 2020.

Millers Commercial Refinishers was an automotive business based at Great Harwood near Blackburn. It provided a body repair service for vehicles damaged in accidents.

The company had ceased trading in early 2020 and Miller, having already informed third parties that the company would be put into liquidation, approached an insolvency practitioner in February 2020.

When the company did eventually go into liquidation in June 2020, the company liquidators referred the case to the Insolvency Service.

The subsequent investigation by the Insolvency Service found that the company had applied for, and received, a £50,000 Bounce Back Loan, despite it being clear that companies that had already ceased trading were not eligible for the loans, which were intended to support genuine companies during the pandemic lockdown.

Miller transferred nearly £30,000 of the loan out of the company’s account to a connected company, despite owing HMRC at least £30,486 in unpaid VAT, PAYE and other charges at the point Millers Commercial Refinishers went into liquidation.

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted a disqualification undertaking from Miller, which begins on February 22, 2022, and lasts for eight years.

The disqualification undertaking prevents Miller from directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company without the permission of the court.

Rob Clarke, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service said: “Bounce Back Loans were made available for trading companies adversely affected by the pandemic. Anthony Miller knew his company had ceased trading yet he took it anyway.

“We will not hesitate to take action against directors who have abused COVID-19 financial support like this, and his lengthy ban should serve as a warning to others.”