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Lapland New Forest boss Victor Mears banned from being company director for ten years
1:39pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
ONE of the men behind a failed Lapland-style Christmas theme park has been banned from acting as a director of a limited company for ten years.
Victor Robert Mears, the director of Lapland New Forest Limited, which was set up from Matchams Leisure Park in the New Forest, heard his fate at Brighton County Court following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Mr Mears and his brother Henry launched the theme park offering a winter wonderland with snow-covered log cabins, a nativity scene, polar bears and a Christmas market.
But visitors were greeted by fairly lights strung from trees and a broken ice rink.
The firm went into voluntary liquidation in February 2009.
Tickets went on sale in September 2008 and the park opened to visitors on November 29, 2008, but closed on December 4 following a number of issues.
An investigation from the Insolvency Service found that between September 3 and December 22, 2008, a total of £1,283,056 was received into the company bank account and £1,284,309 was paid out.
The investigation discovered 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 two brothers were found guilty of misleading customers in 2011 following a two-month trial at Bristol Crown Court.
Under cross examination at trial Mr Mears explained that the majority of this cash was then paid to an individual linked to the landlord of the park but that he did not obtain any receipts nor did he keep any contemporaneous record of the dates or amounts of such payments.
Mark Bruce, a chief examiner at the Insolvency Service who gave evidence at the trial, 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.”
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