Paul Edward Fleury, the director of Sale-based property services provider, Precise Property Services Limited (‘Precise’), has been disqualified from directorship for the maximum period permitted by law after defrauding the daughter of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, Petra Stunt, during the £25m renovation of her Chelsea mansion.

Following exhaustive investigation by the Insolvency Service, he was found to have transferred the business and assets of Precise into a newly incorporated company for no consideration, in order to circumvent a Court order freezing Precise’s assets.

Suspicions were raised at the sums paid out for work completed, and Ms Stunt instructed solicitors. False invoices in excess of £1.5m were found to have been raised, resulting in a worldwide freezing order over Fleury’s assets, including any assets in companies where he had a controlling interest – including Precise.

Just 13 days after the freezing order was made, Fleury incorporated a new company and transferred Precise’s assets, worth over £180,000, to it for nothing. He then failed to include the new company in the list of his financial interests provided under the order.

Precise entered administration on 3 March 2014, and its administrator established that it had a deficiency of £190,732. As well as a custodial sentence of 9 months for deceiving the Court, Fleury’s conduct while a director of Precise saw him disqualified from directorship for 15 years.

Directors of insolvent companies presiding over transactions which intentionally prefer certain creditors of a company over others, or which take place for less than full market value, may not only find those transactions being set aside, but may find that they are exposed to both civil and possible even criminal sanctions as a result.

A Directors’ position is not merely a title, and the law demands that Directors’ duties are performed with competence and integrity so as to protect the business community. Directors have real responsibilities to both the companies they direct, and to the creditors and associates of those companies, and those responsibilities are heavily regulated by a dense statutory regime.

If you are a director of a company in financial distress, or are unsure about your duties as a Director and their implications for you personally, Farleys’ Commercial department will be happy to assist. Please contact us here or by calling 0845 287 0939