Director scamming small businesses hit by large ban

Sarah White from Manchester disqualified for 10 years for charging small businesses for fake business rates reduction service

Sarah Elizabeth White, also known as Sarah Regan, has been disqualified from acting as a director following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

She was director of Manchester-based Harrison Black Associates Limited, which, together with the London branch Hayden Moss Associates Limited, promised small business owners that for a fee of up to £3,000 it would reduce their business rates.

Business owners were led to believe they were guaranteed a reduction in their rates or they would received a full refund. Following various complaints, the Insolvency Service opened an investigation into the company under powers set out within the Companies Act 1985.

Both companies were then wound up at Manchester District registry last year. A number of small business owners were left out of pocket by over £34,000.

Commenting on the disqualification, Cheryl Lambert, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:

Sarah White was purporting to offer a service she knew the company could not, and did not, provide. She took no steps to ensure that Harrison Black did what customers had paid for and what had been promised within a contract.

Taking action against her should serve as a warning to all directors that if they are abusing their position we will remove them from the marketplace.

The Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy accepted an undertaking from Sarah Elizabeth White on 11 September 2017. The disqualification is from 2 October 2017.

Notes to editors

Sarah Elizabeth White (aka Sarah Regan) is of Audenshaw, Manchester and her date of birth is January 1985.

Harrison Black Associates Ltd (Company Registration No.08978150) was incorporated on 4 April 2014. Its registered office was 83 Ducie Street, Manchester, M1 2JQ, United Kingdom. It traded, at various times, from the registered office and 345 Chester Road, Manchester

Harrison Black Associates Ltd was subject to an investigation by Insolvency Service and, following an application to wind it up in the public interest, was placed into liquidation on 1 March 2016 (Manchester District Registry 3328 of 2015).

The Insolvency Service investigation established that:

  • Misleading information was provided to customers regarding the potential benefits of the Company’s services
  • Customers were shown misleading documents in order to induce them to make payments
  • Customers were wrongly led to believe they were guaranteed a reduction in their rates or they would received a full refund
  • White informed customers payment was required to instruct a surveyor and 31 of the 33 customers made a payment and received no such visit
  • There is no evidence of any rate reduction appeals have been made on behalf of customers or any refunds made

The Insolvency Service, an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), administers the insolvency regime, and aims to deliver and promote a range of investigation and enforcement activities both civil and criminal in nature, to support fair and open markets. We do this by effectively enforcing the statutory company and insolvency regimes, maintaining public confidence in those regimes and reducing the harm caused to victims of fraudulent activity and to the business community, including dealing with the disqualification of directors in corporate failures.

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available.