Founders of estate agency pay ‘ultimate price’ as they are banned from being directors

Two founders of an estate agency have expressed their profound regret after being banned from being company directors for six years.

Christopher Wilcock and Adam Balmer, who founded Balmer Wilcock, with offices in the Greater Manchester area, said they had paid the “ultimate” price and had been naïve.

The pair launched their business in 2010 but it hit difficulties, and in August 2018 administrators were called in, initially finding that creditors were owed £666,302.

The creditors included HMRC which demanded almost £300,000 and issued a winding-up notice.

The Insolvency Service has now published case details revealing that Wilcock and Balmer “caused or allowed” the company to submit VAT returns which did not accurately reflect the true trading position of the business.

For the VAT period ending December 31, 2015, the firm’s accountant was instructed to reduce sales by £30,000, which would have cut VAT by £6,000.

Between May 2016 and November 2017, Balmer Wilcock submitted six nil VAT returns and one for £5,000.

Between November 2016 and the following August, Balmer Wilcock made three payments to HMRC totalling £16,000.

A final VAT return of £310,887 was submitted in March 2018.

In May that year, HMRC wrote to Balmer Wilcock requesting immediate payment of £299,887.

The firm submitted a ‘notification of errors in VAT returns’ to HMRC in relation to one VAT period, saying that the VAT payable totalled £23,516.

On July 11, 2018, HMRC arranged an inspection visit on July 17, which the company postponed. On July 12, HMRC issued a petition to wind up Balmer Wilcock.

Wilcock’s six-year disqualification started on January 17 this year, and Balmer’s will start on February 7.

According to the latest report file at Companies House by administrators Cowgills, unsecured claims total £539,773, with unsecured creditors including HMRC. There is one secured creditor, who is owed £150,000.

Balmer Wilcock continues to trade, and is the trading name of EA Property Group (Northwest).

Yesterday, a statement was issued to EYE by Wilcock and Balmer, both in their thirties.

They said: “We have paid the ultimate price and deeply regret having been struck off as company directors.

“This is as a result of fully and naively entrusting an accountancy practice that we believed had our personal and the company’s best interests at heart.

“We believe the tax liability to be fictitious.

“We implore other small businesses to ensure they carry out full due diligence when entrusting professional services to act on their behalf.

“As a result of the disqualification, there is now a new management team running Balmer Wilcock and Mr Wilcock and Mr Balmer have stepped aside from any involvement in the running and control of Balmer Wilcock.

“Balmer Wilcock’s clients will continue to receive the level of service that has made it the number one agent in the area, for which it was awarded the status of being in the top 1% in the country by the industry recognised Best Estate Agent Guide 2019.”

 

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16 Comments

  1. Happy Daze!

    All this dishonesty and fraud, or at best complete lack of business acumen, yet they are allowed to continue dealing with people’s most valuable asset…??… The striking off is a farce isn’t it?!!….

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  2. AgencyInsider

    Oooh look. We send out these things called invoices which have this lovely stuff called VAT on them. We heard about VAT somewhere. It’s what we have to add on to the price we are charging a customer – and when they pay it we get to keep it. Brilliant! We’re rich!

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  3. Property Poke In The Eye

    Absolute joke!

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  4. jeremy1960

    How can any business owner not be abreast of the financial position of their company at all times? Simple answer is that every business owner should be, those who are not are either stupid or crooked!

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  5. J1

    They won’t be the first or the last ……… hiding behind an accountant is a disgrace

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  6. AD

    Running a business is a serious responsibility and too many people do not understand the complexities involved. HMRC should be at the top of your pay list – it’s not your money!

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    1. Woodentop

      Like tenants deposit.

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      1. Stuart

        Yes, like last weeks account in this e-zine of deposit and rent theft..

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  7. Stuart

    “The firms accountant was instructed to reduce sales” ……. no mention of repercussions for this person(s) who allowed and presented this falsification…possibly then it’s an in house bookeeper as opposed to a professional firm of accountants who would surely never agree to falsifying returns ?…
    These are huge numbers.

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  8. LordElpus56

    I’m not surprised in the least at this. 
    And Companies House still shows them as directors of the company mentioned in the article – https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/11271635/officers

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    1. PeeBee

      Balmer technically can still be a Director until Feb 7th.

      There will be a time-lag between a ban coming into force and the person being removed from their status, no doubt.

      Watkins is currently showing as being a Director of four companies, as is Balmer – there or thereabouts, as he has more separate entries at Companies House than Wongs in the Shanghai phone book.

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  9. Property Pundit

    How are they avoiding jail time? Now that would be the ‘ultimate’ sacrifice (once all of their assets had been seized of course).

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  10. APE

    I know nothing about either of the two companies below – other than their reported financial misconduct.  However, it does make you wonder if more scrutiny should be applied to compiling the ‘Best Estate Agent Guide’…

     

    Balmer Wilcock’s clients will continue to receive the level of service that has made it the number one agent in the area, for which it was awarded the status of being in the top 1% in the country by the industry recognised Best Estate Agent Guide 2019.

     

    A former agent has been disqualified from being a director after spending over £68,000 of tenancy deposit money.

    Forrester founded Clear Lettings in 2007. The business was highly rated in the Best Agent Guide for 2018 and awarded ‘excellent’ in the 2019 guide.

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  11. Kings Road

    Im aware of this story and know of the accountants and would like to find out more of there has been any consuqences to them. Knowing this acountant i would definetely say there hands arent clean either.

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  12. whatdoiknow58

    Far too many crooks allowed to rip off customers/suppliers and HMRC and then hide behind the old limited company trick without any comeback whatsoever other than to be disqualified from being a director of a company for a period of time. What a farce because anybody who is smart enough and devoid of any concience or remorse will just use someone else to front the business and carry on. Reminds me of the Estate Agent in the North East a while ago who went bust and his wife then bought the business back off the receiver and he was then immediately appointed Chairman ( but not a director of course ). Drinks all round.

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  13. Dezza25

    Fraud. Prison. No Excuse.

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