The News Letter reports that the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry has written to six directors of the [in adminstration] Presbyterian Mutual Society [PMS] to inform them that the department has decided “that it is in the public interest to seek disqualification orders” against them. From the News Letter report
The DETI letter said the intention to disqualify the accused was based on conduct which “makes you unfit to be concerned in the management of a limited company”.
As well as the unwanted attention of being publicly disqualified, the process can also impact on an individual’s legal ability to manage a business and could also invite action from a director’s professional body, if one exists.
The letter says that if the accused director agrees to disqualification without a public trial, they will normally get a shorter period of disqualification and would not normally pay legal costs.
The report also states that when the PMS went into administartion twenty people were named as directors. Which appears to have prompted this concern from former Presbyterian moderator Stafford Carson
Last night former Presbyterian moderator Stafford Carson called for clarification on the criteria DETI was using to select the six directors for disqualification.
“The focus of our attention has been to seek a resolution of the crisis so that PMS savers get access to their money,” he said.
“We have not been involved in a speculative ‘blame game’. If anyone involved in the administration of the PMS has acted illegally, then their culpability needs to be established through a proper and transparent legal process.
“What is unclear is the criteria by which only some PMS directors have been identified.”
A sceptic might ask whether the disqualifications are connected to the announcement by the UK Chancellor in October of a £25million grant and a £175million loan to the NI Executive for the PMS [reg may be required].
And whether any action will be taken against Departmental civil servants [or the Minister]?
The central government grant and loan leaves just £25million for OFMDFM to find to meet their pre-election proposal.
An annex of the DETI letter accuses the director of a number of misdemeanours, including causing or allowing the PMS to:
* Carry on the business of banking contrary to the Industrial and Provident Societies Act.
* Accept deposits as a deposit-taking business in breach of the Banking Act 1987 and I&PS Act 1969.
* Carry on a regulated activity, namely accepting deposits, without authorisation under Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
* Making loans to non-PMS-members in breach of PMS rules.
* Failing to ensure the directors met sufficiently often to control PMS affairs.
* Pursuing investment/lending policies not consistent with PMS rules.
* Having a director who was not a member of the PMS.
* Allowing non-members to borrow money.
* Allowing non-Presbyterians to invest.
(* Although not mentioned by DETI, two PMS directors were already under investigation by their professional accountancy body).