Shamed scrap metal boss banned as company director

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A scrap metal boss whose busted company is being chased for £55m in unpaid tax has been banned as a company director for 13 years.

The Insolvency Service handed Jody Dean Firth the disqualification for his involvement with JKL Wakefield Ltd, which traded as Eric France Metal Recycling.

The firm, which was a main sponsor of Wakefield Wildcats, went into administration in February 2013 with multi-million pound debts to HMRC.

An Insolvency Service report said investigators found that between June 17, 2010, and February 26, 2013, Mr Firth, 32, allowed a “connected party”, who was a bankrupt and disqualified director, to act as a director of the company.

Between September 2008 and February 2013, Mr Firth also “caused or allowed JKL to evade tax liabilities to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)”

“JKL submitted false VAT returns for the tax years 2008-09 to 2011-12, resulting in losses to HMRC of at least £50,204,505.”

The investigators also found that in the tax years 2008-09 to 2011-12, Mr Firth and the connected party received £1,250,000 in cash from JKL’s suppliers which was not accounted for in the books and records.

And the report said: “Between August 1, 2010 and August 6, 2011 the connected party received £1,102,147 in bonuses from JKL which was not accounted for in the books and records.

“Mr Firth allowed the connected party to create false invoices for his own benefit.

“HMRC are owed at least £4,888,661 in respect of unpaid Pay As You earn (PAYE) tax and National Insurance Contributions.

“HMRC’s claim in the liquidation is estimated at £55,093,166.”

Paul Winterton, assistant official receiver for the Insolvency Service, said: “Where someone assists a disqualified director or bankrupt to hide their involvement in the management of a limited company, they can expect to be the subject of rigorous investigation and to be removed from the corporate arena for a lengthy period, as Mr Firth has found to his cost.

“It is unacceptable for directors to seek an unfair advantage over their competitors by not properly accounting for taxes due.”

The overall debt the company was being pursued for was stated as £21m in unpaid VAT when the firm first went into administration, but the figure has since spiralled.

In May, a liquidators progress report filed at Companies House showed that HMRC was pursing the company for £47m.

Items including luxury sports cars, property and watches were being sold off by liquidators to pay the company’s debts.

Rugby League Club Dewsbury Rams was also sponsored by Eric France and Ossett Town’s stadium was named Stade France under a deal with the company.

All of Eric France’s 18 employees were made redundant when it went bust.