The Insolvency Service has finally caught up with direct marketing agency rogue Chris Stoddard, the controversial charity boss who has spent the past decade doing more ducking and diving than Del Boy, by banning him from being a company director for 9½ years.
Stoddard was the director of CS Fundraising (CSF), which was incorporated in June 2008 and commenced to trade in late 2012 as a professional fundraiser for charities from premises in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.
The company took over the assets and contracts of an associated professional fundraising company that entered into formal insolvency proceedings in June 2012.
At its peak the agency was sending out approximately 150,000 mail donation letters each month, on behalf of charities. However, under sustained pressure from various sources, Stoddard took the decision to cause the company to cease trading in November 2014 and on December 19 2014 the company was placed into creditors’ voluntary liquidation (CVL).
This brought to nine, the number of companies where Stoddard had a significant role, to have gone into some form of insolvency.
An Insolvency Service investigation, which followed CSF’s insolvency exposed a “charge sheet” as long as your arm – all of which Stoddard admitted – including causing CSF to solicit money from the general public in a way that was contrary to laws governing charities; and causing and/or allowing CSF to mislead the public in that the solicitation statement of the company did not comply with the requirements of charity laws.
Also, between July 2013 and September 2014 Stoddard caused CSF to retain public donations of at least £125,634, which the company had received in its capacity as a professional fund-raiser on behalf of a charity and that between July 2013 and December 2014 he breached the duty of trust owed to CS Fundraising in that he failed to act in the best interest of the company.
The Insolvency Service ruled that Stoddard did so by allowing a conflict of interest to arise which caused a separate company, which he also controlled, to earn revenues from the renting out of the mailing list of CS Fundraising without accounting for money due to CSF for the income earned. In addition, It has not been possible to ascertain the income received by the associated company.
The Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy accepted a disqualification undertaking from Stoddard, which prevents him from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership, for 9½ years.
Since June 15 2010 Stoddard has been director and/or major shareholder in nine companies that have entered into formal insolvency:
CSDM: appointed as a director January 13 2005; company entered administration June 15 2010; company placed in CVL June 15 2011.
Millfield Concepts: appointed as a director May 8 1997; company placed into CVL March 15 2011.
CSDM Response LLP: appointed as a director June 11 2007; company placed into CVL April 27 2011.
CS Incentive: appointed as a director April 26 2007; company placed into CVL July 3 2012.
CSDM Fundraising: appointed as a director December 7 2009; company entered into administration June 26 2013; placed into CVL June 18 2014.
Listening People: appointed as a director October 2 2012; resigned as director June 27 2013; company placed into CVA April 2 2014; company placed into CVL November 13 2014.
CS Fundraising: appointed as a director June 4 2008; company placed into CVL December 19 2014.
Inspire Fundraising: appointed as director March 18 2011; company entered administration January 20 2015; company placed into CVL September 22 2015.
Cleardata Direct Media: appointed as a director July 28 2010; company placed into CVL October 23 2015.
Commenting on the ban, Martin Gitner, deputy head of Insolvent Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, said: “Members of the public who donate their money to worthy causes need to be confident that all funds, less agreed costs, are forwarded by the professional fundraising companies employed by the charities.
“In this case, Stoddard failed to fully adhere to legislation directly relevant to the business of his company, he failed to ensure that all due funds due to a charity were paid over and he failed to act in the best interests of the creditors of CS Fundraising Limited.
“Directors who engage in such conduct will be investigated and by the Insolvency Service and enforcement action taken to remove them from the market place.”
Direct marketing businesses have been keeping the Insolvency Service busy in recent months. So far this year, four directors – Allan Brown and Kenneth Haswell of Nevis Home Improvements, Leah Masters of Cold Call Elimination and Tony Abbott of Reactiv Media – have been barred for a total of 24 years.
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