Business fraudster jailed for four years

DTI wound up 94 companies during investigation

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A bankrupt businessman who conned hundreds of ailing companies during a massive fraud operation has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Kevin Sykes advertised his services as a ‘Business Doctor' offering to help struggling businesses out of trouble.

He persuaded directors to take him on as an insolvency and so-called “white knight” in “credit resistence” strategies.

Sykes would often set up a shell company and generate false invoices to make the shell company the main creditor of the ailing business. The business would then go into liquidation, with most of the assets transferring to the shell company – now the main creditor.

However, instead of transferring the assets back to the company owners as promised, Sykes would charge extortionate fees to claim back the hidden money. The businesses he preyed on were unable to complain as they were involved in the fraud.

During its investigation into Sykes' activities, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wound up 94 companies set up by him. In June 2003 alone, 75 firms which Sykes had incorporated while serving a sentence for another case were closed down.

All the companies operated whilst Sykes was still an undischarged bankrupt and disqualified director.

During a hearing at Blackfriars Crown Court in London, Sykes was sentenced to four years in jail and disqualified from serving as a director for 15 years.

Consumer Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: “[The] sentence shows that the DTI uses the full force of the law to come down on dishonest company directors.

“People like Kevin Sykes are a menace and should be taken off the streets. This sentence should serve as a warning to anyone in business who thinks they are above the law.”

Aimee Bradshaw Senior Writer

Aimee is Startups' resident expert in business tech, products, and services. She loves a great story and enjoys chatting to the startups and small business community. Starting her own egg delivery business from the age of 12, she has a healthy respect for self-starters and local services.

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