Three debt collection businesses in Wakefield have been shut down following investigations by the Insolvency Service.
Baker and Bond Ltd (BBL) and Baker and Bond UK (BBUK) were ordered into liquidation in the High Court on the grounds of public interest.
The Insolvency Service found that both businesses, which were based in Wakefield and linked through a common director and addresses, charged customers an up-front fee of up to £595 to provide debt collection services and also charged the debtor from whom they were collecting, additional collection fees.
The investigation also established that the companies traded as one, utilising the same premises, staff, customer database, bank account, VAT registration and the names of both companies were used interchangeably on documentation and correspondence sent to customers.
BBL and/or BBUK were also found to have failed to provide contracted services and responded with abuse and/or threats to customers, failed to maintain, keep adequate company records and continued to collect debts on behalf of customers despite it ‘disappearing’ and/or ceasing to trade in November 2011.
The investigation found that during their trading period, receipts in to the known bank accounts totalled over £145,000. Investigators were unable to trace the recorded director or the accounting records of the companies, and, due to the absence of proper accounting records, it was not possible to distinguish between the respective incomes of the companies.
The High Court found that it was in the public interest that BBL and BBUK be wound up.
In a separate case, and more recently, debt collection business Goldman Vicenti was wound up by the High Court on 16 January 2013 on the grounds of public interest.
The winding up followed the presentation of a winding up petition on behalf of the secretary of state for business and an investigation by The Insolvency Service.
Like BBL and BBUK, Goldman Vicenti charged customers an up front fee of up to £595 to provide debt collection services and also charged the debtors who owed these companies money, unjustified additional collection fees.
The investigation established, and the court found, that the company failed to adhere to its own terms and conditions of service by: charging VAT on its services, despite it not being registered for VAT; charging debtors excessive fees and collection charges; failing to refund clients the full debt collected on behalf of the client; and failing to safeguard monies recovered from debtors on behalf of customers.
The investigation also showed Goldman Vicenti also failed to explain transactions on its bank accounts, provide evidence of testimonials used on its website or, to maintain adequate books and records as is the statutory duty of company directors.
Although the company failed to maintain adequate books and records, the investigation established that Goldman Vicenti appeared to be insolvent with liabilities due to its clients as well as to HM Revenue & Customs.
The High Court found that it was in the public interest that Goldman Vicenti be wound up.