The investigation found, Espress Limited, Emergency Services Press Limited and Sponsored Press Limited all operated what is known as “Support publishing” from bases in the North West.
These companies made unsolicited phone calls to businesses purporting to sell advertising space in safety and emergency services booklets or an online directory.
However, investigators found no evidence that booklets were ever produced or that the website was operated as described. Investigators also found that the three companies appeared to be under common control and traded between September 2009 and August 2011, receiving over £950,000 between them.
The Court heard the directors failed to co-operate with the investigation and there were no trading records, with the result that around £650,000 taken from the companies’ bank accounts in cash remained unaccounted for.
Representatives of the companies made misleading claims to the public. In one case, salespeople told prospective clients that the companies had links to the emergency services which was not true. This was aggravated by instances of the cold-caller claiming to be from the police and, in one instance, the caller claimed that a donation would be made to “Help for Heroes”, which was not the case.
Alex Deane, an investigation supervisor, from Company Investigations in Manchester said:
“These companies dishonestly promoted themselves as acting on behalf of our emergency services and exploited the goodwill of small businesses. They sold advertising space which, if it existed at all, could not benefit the clients in any way.
“People responsible for such companies should be aware that the Insolvency Service will pursue these companies, take steps to close them down and pursue further action against them wherever possible”
Notes to Editors
1. Espress Limited was incorporated on 13th October 2010. The registered office was at 1 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7QD.
2. The petition to wind up Espress Limited in the public interest was presented to the High Court under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 7th February 2012 and the company was wound up on 29th May 2012.
3. Sponsored Press Limited was incorporated on 7th august 2009. The registered office was at 9 Bentinck Street, London W1U 2EL.
4. The petition to wind up Sponsored Press Limited in the public interest was presented to the High Court under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 7th February 2012 and the company was wound up on 29th May 2012.
5. Emergency Services Press Limited was incorporated on 14th May 2010. The registered office was at 82 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3JF.
The petition to wind up Emergency Services Press Limited in the public interest was presented to the High Court under s124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 on 7th February 2012 and the company was wound up on 29th May 2012.
6. The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. The Service also authorises and regulates the insolvency profession; deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures; assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees; provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds; and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of The Insolvency Service is available from www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency
7. All public enquiries concerning the affairs of these companies should be made to: The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 2nd Floor, 3 Piccadilly Place, London Road, Manchester M1 3BN. Tel: 0161 234 8531
8. Media Enquiries should be directed to: Kathryn Montague, Media Relations Manager, telephone: 020 7674 6910 or Ade Daramy, Press Officer, telephone 020 7596 6187.