An award-winning businessman has been banned from being a company director after creating false documents and trying to defraud his company’s creditors.
Alan James Proto, 48, a married family man from Church Steadings, Waverton, made up and backdated fake files to try to transfer assets worth more than £1 million when he knew his Kent-based company GML Construction was going to collapse, eventually costing more than 200 jobs.
The chartered accountant, who was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the Kent Excellent in Business Awards (the KEiBAs) in 2012, was banned from holding any company directorship for 12 years after an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Mr Proto, a chartered accountant, has given an undertaking to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, not to be a director of a company, or be involved in the management of a company in any way for 12 years from December 29, 2014. GML traded in the construction industry from 1991 to December 2012 and went into administration on November 16 2013 and then into liquidation on January 7 2014, with assets of £1,893,379 and liabilities of £4,463,599.
The Insolvency Service investigation showed that from December 2012, in anticipation of GML entering a formal insolvency process, Alan Proto created false documentation and constructed a scheme intending to put him in a better position and assets beyond the reach of creditors.
At December 2012, GML was owed approximately £898,000 from a subsidiary which was involved in the sale of a property development. It was expected that GML would receive repayment in part or in full following the sale of the development by the subsidiary.
Mr Proto created entries on a computer which purported to write off the outstanding debt due from the subsidiary and transferred the interest in the subsidiary for his benefit.
He also created documents which purported to show other people agreeing to this at a time he had never met them or, in relation to companies, they did not exist. He then backdated any correspondence he did have to try and validate the scheme.
Furthermore, Mr Proto entered into transactions whereby his loan to GML of £150,000 was repaid ahead of other creditors.
His scheme was exposed because he had written out his plot in a computer, and these notes were retrieved after they had been deleted.
Commenting on the disqualification, Cheryl Lambert, head of outsourced investigations at the Insolvency Service, said: “This is a very significant ban, reflecting the severity with which the Insolvency Service considers director conduct. Directors of companies experiencing financial difficulties have a duty to act in the best interests of its creditors. This must include ensuring the transparency of the company’s trading activities.
“Mr Proto’s conduct of GML’s affairs fell short of the judgment expected and to protect the integrity of the market, the Insolvency Service will use its powers to protect the business world when directors act in this way.”
The Chronicle has written to Mr Proto to ascertain his side of the story and is awaiting a response.