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5 Feb 2015 04:59pm

Crooked insolvency practitioner fined

An insolvency practitioner overcharged three companies he was liquidating by more than £1.17m and then failed to pay the excess back despite a court order

As a result, Peter Yeldon was made bankrupt in April 2011 and his ICAEW membership ceased. But his case still came before a ICAEW disciplinary committee tribunal (DCT) which fined him £20,000 after finding two complaints against him proved.

Yeldon, a former head of insolvency at Smith & Williamson, who had worked on major insolvency cases including the Maxwell offshore companies, was a founding partner of corporate recovery firm Middleton Partners (no longer trading) in Salisbury.

Back in 2002, he had been appointed liquidator to the three companies, all part of the same group, and all of which had been dormant for four years. Despite this, he had managed to draw remuneration from them of over £1.46m.

A complaint was made and the High Court ordered an assessor to review Yeldon’s work and his remuneration. The assessor found that some of the work he had done was unnecessary and his charges were excessive. He had overcharged the companies £388,082, £196,477 and £585,525 respectively.

All in all, instead of over £1.46m, his total bill should have been just £289,915.

The court accepted most of the assessor’s findings, although it reduced the allowable remuneration from one subsidiary even further. On 15 November 2010, the judge ordered Yeldon to pay £1.31m to the parent company and a further £295,916 to another company, both of which were in administration. He was also ordered to pay £120,000 in costs and the assessor’s fees.

The court set a deadline of 15 March 2011 which Yeldon ignored. Three weeks later he was made bankrupt, at which point both his authorisation as an insolvency practitioner and his ICAEW membership ceased as a matter of course.

By that time more evidence of his dishonesty had come to light. In October 2010, he had given a written undertaking to the court in which he confirmed that he had not drawn any further remuneration, costs or disbursements from one of the companies since December 2009. In reality,as he was well aware, he had withdrawn more than £345,000 from it, a fact that was only discovered after the court order had been made and other liquidators had been appointed.

The DCT found that there were no mitigating circumstances in the case. “If the defendant had remained a member of ICAEW at the time of this complaint,” it stated, “the tribunal would, without hesitation, have excluded him from membership with the recommendation that he never be permitted to be readmitted as a member.”

As Yeldon was not a member, the DCT could not exclude him. However, it made clear that it would be “most concerned” if he was ever allowed back as a member.

Until his bankruptcy, Yeldon led a champagne lifestyle. He "bankrolled" Salisbury Football Club and listed sea fishing, fast cars, art and Rolls Royces among his recreations in Debretts.

Julia Irvine

 

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