‘Failure was not deliberate’

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The former directors of a Ballymoney kitchens firm have said that the failure of their company was not due to “any deliberate actions by the directors”.

Last week, The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment accepted disqualification undertakings from Wesley and Helen McAuley of Bann Road, Ballymoney.

The undertakings, for eight years from Wesley McAuley (48), and for two years from Helen McAuley (49) were in respect of their conduct as directors of McAuley Kitchens Limited.

The Company carried on the business of kitchen manufacture from 1 Market Street, Ballymoney and 10 Boucher Road, Belfast and went into liquidation on 4 October 2011 with estimated total assets available for preferential creditors of £35,050, liabilities to preferential creditors of £15,154, liabilities to a floating charge holder of £508,919, liabilities to unsecured creditors of £2,180,088 and an estimated deficiency as regards creditors of £2,669,111. After taking into account the losses incurred by members (the shareholders) of the Company the estimated total deficiency was £2,669,311.

Now the Ballymoney couple has issued a statement saying that the failure of the company was “due to the recession in the construction industry, losses suffered due to some building developers becoming insolvent and the withdrawal of bank funding and not any deliberate actions by the directors.”

“In an attempt to sustain the company, protect the jobs of some 50 employees and ensure payments to creditors,” the McAuleys added, “the directors introduced £836,000 of personal money into the company over a number of years.

“When the company went into administration, Wesley and Helen McAuley were the largest creditor, accounting for almost 40% of the total unsecured debt,” continued the statement.

DETI said it accepted disqualification undertakings from Wesley McAuley due to “unfit conduct” of “causing and permitting the Company to misuse a commercial finance invoice”.

However the McAuleys say that “the invoicing procedure used by the Company, now deemed as misuse by the relevant bank, had been used for over 13 years and the Company had been “audited every three months by the bank”.

The couple added that they did not “benefit in any way from the demise of the company”.

No money was taken from the company for their personal use to the detriment of the creditors, they added.

The McAuleys said that they put their company into administration “causing considerable financial loss” to them and their family and concluded that they “reluctantly” agreed to the undertakings “solely for the purpose of the disqualification procedure”.