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Lapland New Forest boss banned from being company director
11:49am Saturday 7th September 2013 in New Forest News
ONE of the men behind a failed Lapland attraction in the New Forest that saw scores of visitors left angry and disappointed has been banned from acting as a company director for ten years.
Victor Robert Mears, 70, the director of Lapland New Forest Limited, a company that traded as a Lapland-style theme park from Matchams Leisure Park in Ringwood has been disqualified from acting as a director for ten years for failing to maintain, preserve or deliver adequate accounting records.
Mears and his brother Henry launched the theme park in 2008, promising a winter wonderland with snow-covered log cabins, a nativity scene, polar bears and a Christmas market.
But visitors were instead greeted by fairy lights strung from trees and a broken ice rink.
Trading Standards received hundreds of complaints within days, and the park was closed on December 4 2008. Lapland New Forest went into liquidation in February of the following year.
Lapland New Forest had started ticket sales in September 2008, with the park opening to visitors on November 29.
The Insolvency Service investigation found that between September 3 and December 22, 2008, £1,283,056 was received into the company bank account and £1,284,309 was paid out.
However, Mr Mears failed to provide adequate books and records to properly account for expenditure of £222,955.45 from the bank account.
Much of this money was drawn from the bank account in cash amounts of £10,000, £15,000 and £20,000. The disqualification, which was made at Brighton County Court, prevents Mears from acting as a director of a limited company until July 2023.
Mark Bruce, chief examiner at the Insolvency Service said: “Directors of companies must maintain sufficient accounting records that show and explain the company’s transactions. Mr Mears failed to do this and the volume of unexplained cash expenditure in such a short trading lifetime was highly suspicious.
It required explanation supported by proof which Mr Mears was unable to provide. “The 10-year disqualification given in this case shows that the court takes the failure to keep records seriously. Other directors who fail to keep sufficient proof of their company’s expenditure, especially cash, should expect similar treatment by the Insolvency Service.”
• Mears, of Selsfield Drive, Brighton, was found guilty of eight offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations Act at Bristol Crown Court in February 2011. He was given a 13-month jail term and was disqualified from acting as a company director for five years. The conviction was overturned at the Court of Appeal in October, 2011, and as a result the Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills issued new disqualification proceedings.
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