Walsall retailer disqualified from running companies

A Walsall retailer has been banned from running companies after it exaggerated its turnover.

Rebecca Simmons was a director of Tia-Bella, trading from premises in Queen Street, Wolverhampton.

The specialty balloon and gifts retailer, was incorporated in March 2019 but more than 2 years later in July 2021, Tia-Bella entered into creditors voluntary liquidation.

Tia-Bella’s insolvency, however, triggered further enquiries from the Insolvency Service.

Investigators discovered that Simmons had applied for a bounce back loan in May 2020, a loan from the government to support businesses during the pandemic, but received funds far greater than what Tia-Bella was entitled to.

Simmons had exaggerated the company’s turnover claiming it to be £180,000 and received a £45,000 loan.

Investigators found that Tia-Bella’s annual turnover was a maximum of £1,300. This meant Tia-Bella was not entitled to even the minimum bounce back loan of £2,000.

Further enquiries found that Simmons caused the company to make payments worth more than £31,000, including a £10,000 directors’ loans, £10,000 towards a company car, and £10,000 worth of repayments of deposits incurred before the pandemic.

Also, Simmons was unable to provide supporting documents, which left investigators unable to confirm whether the £45,000 bounce back loan benefited the business or not.

Therefore, onn 4 August 2022, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted a 9-year disqualification undertaking from Simmons after she did not dispute that she caused Tia-Bella Limited to apply for a government-backed Bounce Back Loan the company was not entitled to.

Effective from 25 August, Simmons is banned from directly, or indirectly, becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

Tia-Bella’s Liquidator is considering the bounce back loan and recovery of funds.

Lawrence Zussman, the deputy head of insolvent investigations, said: “Bounce back loans were issued by the government to help viable businesses during the pandemic.

“Not only did Rebecca Simmons grossly exaggerate the company’s turnover to secure a loan she shouldn’t have got a single penny of, Rebecca Simmons went onto use the funds on activities she couldn’t even justify as benefitting Tia-Bella.

“Rebecca Simmons conduct fell extremely short of the standards required of a company director and has been removed from the corporate arena for a significant amount of time.

“Her 9-year ban should serve as a clear warning that if you abuse government support, we will use our full powers to bring you to account”