Earlier this month, former wine investor William Geoffrey Mason received a 10-year company director disqualification.
An Insolvency Service investigation found that Mason, 54, “abused” hundreds of thousands of pounds investors paid his company. Between 2001 and 2019, Mason’s business, William Mason Fine Wines (WMFW), received more than £445,000 in payments from investors.
However, investigators concluded that in most cases, the wine company broke contracts and agreements by either:
- Failing to purchase wine
- Buying and disposing of alcohol without notifying investors
Administrators liquidating WMFW, which was eventually wound up in November 2020, noted that Mason’s company had no wine in stock.
Company director disqualification
Astonishingly, some of WMFW’s unluckiest investors were formerly good friends with Mason. No doubt, that familiarity led them to trust him with their money.
David Argyle, the Insolvency Service’s deputy head of insolvent investigations said: “10 years is a significant disqualification and sends a stark warning to directors who think they can abuse their investors that we will pursue the strictest restrictions and remove them from the corporate arena.”
Without specific permission from a court, disqualified company directors cannot:
- Act as the director of a company
- Take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation, or management of a company or limited liability partnership
- Be in receipt of a company’s property
Previously, we discussed whether the punishments for misdemeanours such as these are severe enough in the UK. It’s a serious issue when you consider how many investors can be adversely affected by a single company director’s misfeasance.
Some business owners avoid punishment by continuing to run companies unofficially, reaping the benefits of directorship while remaining disqualified. The consequences for this type of behaviour are much harsher in the US where many more directors face criminal prosecution.
Perhaps it’s time to consider stricter penalties for greedy, abusive, and delinquent directors?