Published: 09:20, 04 March 2015
An award-winning businessman has been banned from being director of a company for creating false documents and trying to defraud his company’s creditors.
Alan James Proto made up and backdated fake files to try to transfer assets worth £1 million when he knew his 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.
GML, based in Coxheath, Maidstone, went into administration in November 2013 and then liquidation in January 2014 with assets of nearly £1.9 million and liabilities of just under £4.5 million.
Yet Mr Proto, 48, knew the company was in trouble from December 2012, when he began creating false documents in a bid to put assets beyond the reach of his firm’s creditors.
At the time, GML was owed £898,000 from a subsidiary involved in the sale of a property development, which was expected to be paid in part or in full when the site was sold.
Mr Proto, who was accountant and director at the business, created entries which purported to write off the outstanding debt from the subsidiary and transferred it for his benefit.
He also created documents which appeared to show other people agreeing to this, whom he had either never met or, in relation to companies, did not exist.
He backdated real-life correspondence to try and cover up his actions and also entered transactions which repaid a £150,000 loan he made to GML ahead of other creditors.
Mr Proto, who studied economics at Cambridge, was exposed because he had written out his plot in a computer, and these notes were retrieved after they had been deleted.
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 director’s act in this way.”