By Claire West

Mr Christopher Lake and Mr Stephen Knight, the directors of a group of companies which claimed to sell financial and other business opportunities to people with poor credit histories have been disqualified from acting as company directors for a total of 16 years following an Insolvency Service investigation.

The disqualifications come after an investigation into the activities of Lake and Knight who ran Charter Financial Solutions Limited; Charter Financial Solutions (UK) Limited; Finance Select (UK) Limited; Bounce World Limited and Trash Express Limited. All the companies were all based in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Each company was ordered into liquidation, on the grounds of public interest on 22 May 2009.

Insolvency Service investigators found the directors had deliberately given false information to a high street bank in connection with an application for a bank account for Finance Select (UK) Limited. The directors wrongly stated they had never been associated with a business that had a court order of a debt registered against it.

Commenting on the case Stephen Speed, Chief Executive of The Insolvency Service, said;

“Companies providing deliberately misleading information to lenders and potential investors is serious misconduct and it undermines the confidence the public have in business. I hope the disqualification periods secured in this case sends a clear and simple message to other company directors. The Insolvency Service has strong enforcement powers and we will not hesitate to use them to remove dishonest or reckless people from the business environment.”

In signing their Company Director Disqualification Undertakings Mr Lake and Mr Knight accepted they had:-

· caused or allowed Charter Financial Solutions Limited, Finance Select (UK) Limited and Bounce World Limited to be marketed to the public as involving a well-established and successful business model when, as they knew or ought to have known, the business model was in fact unsuccessful and flawed and had not been long-established;

· knowingly or recklessly caused or allowed the foregoing three companies (and Mr Lake additionally in Trash Express UK Limited) to make misleading statements to franchisees and prospective franchisees, including misleading statements as to the success and prospective income which franchisees could expect to achieve;

· knowingly caused or allowed Charter Financial Solutions Limited and Finance Select (UK) Limited to publish false and misleading testimonials for the services offered; and

· knowingly or recklessly provided false information to the Office of Fair Trading in an application by Finance Select (UK) Limited for a consumer credit licence.

Members of the public who think they know of a person who is acting in breach of a Director Disqualification Order or Undertaking can report them to The Insolvency Service Enforcement Hotline on 0845 601 3546.