Suspended sentence imposed on former director

The former owner of a Birmingham Chinese restaurant has been sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to four counts of fraud.

Patrick Lau, 46, been sole director of Big Wok until it went into liquidation in March 2018. Despite correctly seeking advice from an insolvency practitioner, Lau proceeded to make payments of nearly £100,000 to himself and two other individuals, rather than repay his debts as legally required to do. Amongst its debts was £30,000 in unpaid tax.

Following an initial investigation by the Insolvency Service, Lau signed a six-year disqualification undertaking which came into effect on 15 December 2020.

However, he did not engage with the subsequent Insolvency Service criminal investigation, and also relocated to Hong Kong by 2020. Due to his lack of co-operation Lau was placed on a UK Border alert list, and the Insolvency Service secured an arrest warrant when notified that Lau was flying to the UK on January 27.

Lau plead guilty to four counts of fraud under the Insolvency Act 1986 at Birmingham Magistrates Court and was ordered to pay £3,000 in costs and complete 200 hours unpaid work.

John McFadian, Chief Examiner at the Insolvency Service said: “As the judge pointed out during sentencing, this kind of behaviour is not a victimless crime. It causes real hardship to innocent creditors, and has resulted in the public purse being short-changed.”