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SEO director disqualified over poor records

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6th Feb 2014
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The director of a search engine optimisation (SEO) company has been disqualified for seven years for failing to keep adequate accounting records following an Insolvency Service investigation.

Karon Crone was the director of Coatbridge-based Micrositez Digital, which was set up in July 2011 and went into liquidation the following year.

The IS investigation found during that period £892,289 was paid from its bank account, including £268,217 to the director’s husband and an associated company.

Crone’s husband and the company are located in Florida in the US where she has since moved from North Lanarkshire.

Disqualification orders

These have the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot:

· act as a director of a company

· take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or · limited liability partnership

· act as an insolvency practitioner be a receiver of a company’s property

In addition, at the time Crone left the UK, Micrositez Digital owed HMRC £139,497 in unpaid tax.

The Insolvency Service’s Robert Clarke said companies are under a legal duty to account for their income and expenditure and fulfilling that duty is a key component of the role of a director.

“There is no place in the business environment for those who neglect their responsibilities in this area,” said the head of Insolvent Investigations North. “All too often, the lack of records to explain transactions is used to cover up other, more serious misconduct and we cannot determine whether that was the case at Micrositez, a fact which is reflected in the lengthy ban now in place.”

Crone was disqualified from 26 December 2013 and will not act as a director, manage, or in any way control a company until 25 December 2020. Disqualification undertakings have the same weight as disqualification orders.

Replies (13)

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By The Limey
06th Feb 2014 15:30

So she gets £140k that was

So she gets £140k that was due to HMRC (the rest of us in other words) and in exchange she is banned from being a UK company director. And in the meantime is no longer living in the UK so presumably doesn't care too much.

 

I really hope HMRC on this one from the personal tax side.

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By GuestXXX
17th Mar 2015 16:10

.

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By njpandya
06th Feb 2014 20:28

Nonsense

These one man companies are sheer nonsense paying less taxes and withdrawing 5 figure amounts in dividends, hardly creating an employment. These tax system is overdue for changes. 

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By dogsbreath
07th Feb 2014 11:45

SEO - selling snake oil

This is so wrong on so many levels...  SEO is utter snake oil and most of the time is overpriced nonsense.  Sure,  it has a use,  but common sense will almost always give you the same results.

Amazing that their turnover was so high.  Oh,  of course,  this is deluxe snake oil.

What criminal charges are following?  If someone stole £140k they'd be facing a stretch of porridge.

Extradition proceedings?  Oh,  of course not,  it's the wrong direction.

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By chrisplumley
07th Feb 2014 12:22
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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
07th Feb 2014 13:00

inadequate
Ooh, I bet that will teach her a lesson (not), the word out there is HMRC has no resources to pose a real concern to those prepared to break the rules.

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By vowlesj
07th Feb 2014 13:44

it does seem very inadequate

and isn't 'inadequate' an inadequate word to describe what has happened.

So the UK company paid loads of money to husband's company (presumably a USA company). Then went down owing the taxman £140k.   Maybe she is even a director of the US business - even though she is disqualified in the UK (any chance of the special relationship with the US helping enforce her disqualification?).

Next they sell the company that has gone bust - sorry they sold the US arm of the business - and Karen Crone gets some sort of value from this (hint to HMRC, this means she probably has some cash for you to go after!)

Doesn't sound much like the UK business was all a terrible case of bad economics or bad luck. Sounds like the SFO should take a look!   (mind you they don't seem to have a good record in getting convictions after chasing after fraudsters)

 

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By grant_goulding2013
07th Feb 2014 14:36

no acounts

They had never filed any accounts. So how does a new company earn that much from SEO?

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By njpandya
08th Feb 2014 14:01

Joke

Everyone know how easy is to create companies in UK & just look at the requirements companies house ask at the time of application. After working in compliance I came to know one thing very clearly; that HMRC do not have real idea of what's going in unless someone is caught out of the blue. There are hundreds of thousands contractors if not millions working in London city; do you really believe they are all adhering to IR35 rules. They are reporting to the same employers same timesheets 40 hours p/w contract and escape paying less tax; just because they have created ltd company. This is deliberate blindness; give me one good reason why these people should not be on PAYE? Many freelancers will my blog rude & bitter; but as a one I believe playing honestly.

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
08th Feb 2014 17:58

Situation is ridiculous

I agree the situation is bad, everyone knows someone who isnt declaring income,its common, the norm, the cat is out of the bag, the people know HMRC doesent have the resources, they rely on VAT, Duty, PAYE and innocent companies.

Its the 21st century.  I say ban cash, and tax income as it flows around electronically.  All personalities pay 10% on income into their non capital bank accounts. 

Whilst im at it, ban all benefits and everyone gets an allowance from age 18, which tapers off after achieving £30k external income. Say about £4k p.a.  No borrowing (e.g. WONGA) loans can be given without a set of personal accounts which demonstrate ability to pay compiled by a statutory authorised accountant.

 

 

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Replying to ireallyshouldknowthisbut:
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By louisVW4
13th Feb 2014 15:38

What's the point of the Companies Act and Fraud Act...

...when offences committed by 'one-man' Ltd companies are never punished?  The terms "in the public interest" and "proportionate" are usually used to determine whether a prosecution should be brought ...and in most cases, surprisingly, it's found to not be in the public interest to prosecute i.e. the level of misfeasance is too low, and the resources to prosecute are unavailable to conduct a truly proportionate investigation.

The result is directors break the law and defraud shareholders and creditors without fear of sanction. I have been supporting a friend in an investigation against her ex-partner and co-shareholder in a company in which my friend is the majority shareholder.  Her ex- has systematically spirited away the majority of the company assets and covered it up with false accounting and poor record filing with Companies House. He then set up a new company and transferred the sole contract from my friend's company to the new one, which was as clear a case of 'Unfair Prejudice' as you could find, and mysteriously, the assets of the old company disappeared.  He then transferred both his directorships to his new wife.  My friend has repeatedly requested the full accounts to identify where the money has gone, as she is entitled to, but the directors simply refuse to comply, despite what the law says.  Our forensic accountant reported the alleged fraud to www.actionfraud.police.uk and it was amazingly immediately referred to Bath Police for investigation; a slam dunk and quick win for the Police statistics you would have thought.  Instead, the Police interviewed the alleged fraudsters who obviously denied any wrongdoing, but refused to interview the victim. Indeed, the Police actually warned my friend against harassing the poor alleged fraudsters, despite the available evidence.  All the Police needed to do was obtain the detailed accounts and bank statements under warrant, and the scale of the directors' misfeasance would become clear (£100,000+), and that's not even considering the IR35 position, where we know the original director paid himself just £700 per month for years, despite a hypothetical Business Entity Test score of -15.

HMRC is aware of the situation, but I doubt they will do anything about it either.  Instead, they will pursue late SA filers for £100, rather than the many £000s from this chap alone.

Crime really does pay, and you are unlikely to be caught.  What's the point in being honest!

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Replying to Ruddles:
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By SJH-ADVDIPMA
13th Feb 2014 15:48

sham compliance
Yes, why do we feel there is a big risk of being caught or punished when there isn't?

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Replying to Ruddles:
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By mackthefork
21st Feb 2014 13:16

Not being funny

But would the friend not have a civil case here, former partner/husband/whatever has gone against his fiduciary duty to act in the interests of the company.

"In essence, the duty of good faith is the duty to act in the best interest of the company at all times. This means that the director must not make a profit or receive a benefit at the expense of the company. """

How you quantify it is another thing, but surely he has clearly done something wrong here, the police have no clue, as this is not a traffic offence, maybe a short consultation with a specialist accountant or solicitor is in order given the amounts involved.

Regards

MtF

 

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