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Two Leicestershire company directors banned for a total of 19 years

(Provided courtesy of The insolvency Service)

Savio Gilbert Pereira, 46, and Sajid Anver Valimohammed, 37, have been disqualified as company directors for a total of 19 years following separate Insolvency Service investigations which uncovered financial misconduct.

Pereira, of Market Harborough was sole director of Himalayan Zest Takeaway Limited, which was incorporated in April 2018 and traded as Himalayan Zest on Market Street in Lutterworth until it went into liquidation in November 2021.

In June 2020, Pereira applied for a Bounce Back Loan on behalf of Himalayan Zest. Bounce Back Loans were government-backed loans designed to help businesses stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the rules of the scheme, companies could apply for loans of between £2,000 and £50,000, up to a maximum of 25% of their turnover for 2019.

Pereira stated that Himalayan Zest’s turnover was around £207,500, which allowed the restaurant to receive the maximum £50,000 loan.

When the business went into liquidation the following year owing around £51,500, it triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service which found that Pereira had exaggerated Himalayan Zest’s turnover in order to falsely claim the loan.

Investigators discovered that the company only had around £54,600 in its bank account following receipt of the Bounce Back Loan, and between June and August that year, Pereira had made a £10,000 payment to himself, £28,000 in various debit payments to an unknown recipient and had withdrawn a total of £16,800 in cash.

Pereira was unable to prove that these transactions were for the economic support of the restaurant.

A second director, Sajid Anver Valimohammed, of Leicester, was director of J Dee Designs Ltd, which was incorporated in July 2019 and traded as a fashionwear finisher from Upper Charnwood Street in Leicester until it went into liquidation in December 2020.

But Valimohammed had failed to keep business accounts and records – a legal requirement of company directors – and was unable to hand them over to the company’s liquidators, which led to an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Investigators discovered that Valimohammed had withdrawn more than £286,000 from the company bank account through 199 separate transfers with the reference ‘Mrref Self FT’ during the time J Dee Design was in business.

They found that around £315,300 was withdrawn from J Dee Design’s bank account during the period – including £30,000 from a Bounce Back Loan that the company had applied for – but Valimohammed could not prove that the transactions were for legitimate trading activity, or whether the loan money had been used for the benefit of the company.

And due to his failure to keep company accounts, investigators were also unable to verify whether J Dee Designs had paid the correct amount of tax it owed, or to ascertain the true financial position of the company when it went into liquidation, including whether liquidators would be able to make any recovery of debts.

Valimohammed did not contest the disqualification order at court and was banned from being a director for 8 years on 9 November this year. His ban began on 30 November and the court also awarded full costs to the Insolvency Service.

Separately, the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Savio Pereira in October, after he did not dispute that he had caused his restaurant to falsely apply for a Bounce Back Loan of £50,000, and had failed to use the money for the economic benefit of the company.

Pereira’s disqualification started on 15 November this year and lasts for 11 years. The bans prevent the two directors from directly or indirectly becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

Dave Elliott, Chief Examiner at The Insolvency Service, said,

“The Insolvency Service takes Bounce Back Loan abuse and the failure to keep, preserve and deliver up books and records very seriously.

“The length of these directors’ bans reflects the gravity of their misconduct, and should serve as a warning to others.”