The owner of a training provider with links to a troubled FE college has been served a seven year ban from acting as a director following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Judy Roach, from Thamesmead, South London, has been hit with disqualification undertakings after investigators found more than £2.5 million in public funding had not been correctly accounted for while her training company was trading.
Roach made payments totalling £171,865 to family members and used the company to pay for over £41,000 worth of renovations to her own house, according to Insolvency Service documents.
Roach’s firm, JAR Training Consultancy Limited, filed for voluntary liquidation in March 2021.
Liquidators Begbies Traynor LLP reported in March 2022 that the firm had received just under £62,000 in claims from creditors against assets valued at just £9,495. The latter figure however excludes a director’s loan worth £45,969.
Creditors declared to date include Santander, HMRC and Brooklands College, which itself hasn’t filed accounts since 2018 after being caught up in a previous separate subcontracting scandal.
However, the Insolvency Service has said that JAR’s true deficiency to creditors is more likely to be in the region of £3.5 million.
Insolvency Service investigators found that Roach failed to “maintain and/or preserve adequate accounting records” from the time her firm was incorporated, September 2015, to the date of liquidation which was March 2015.
According to Insolvency Service records, JAR received £2,553,785 from three un-named further education colleges. Almost all of it, £2,499,394 was owed to just one college.
The Department for Education told FE Week “JAR was a partner of a primary ESFA contractor who we are in the process of recovering funds from”.
Brooklands College is the only college to have made a claim against JAR according to JAR’s latest liquidation documents on Companies House.
This is the second subcontracting scandal to hit Brooklands College in the past few years. The first, which involved SCL Security Ltd, resulted in the ESFA demanding repayment of £20 million worth of apprenticeships funding. The college is currently undergoing a resizing project to ensure its financial security.
As a small firm, JAR Training Consultancy was exempt from publishing full accounts.
By not accounting for its funding correctly, over £1.7 million allocated to individuals for tutoring and assessing services also cannot be checked and verified.
Roach’s failure to account for millions of pounds worth of public funds has landed her a seven-year disqualification. This means she will need permission from the courts to take part in promoting, forming or managing a company.
“Every limited company has a legal duty to maintain accounting records, especially those that receive millions of pounds worth of public funding. Judy Roach, however, totally disregarded her duties, which meant she was unable to explain exactly what happened to more than £2.5 million of income provided by the government,” said Mark Bruce, chief investigator at the Insolvency Service.
By the time JAR filed for voluntary liquidation, the firm had been trading without filing or maintaining accurate financial records for five and a half years.
Yet the Education and Skills Funding Agency has praised their “joint working” with the Insolvency Service.
Howard Tobias, the ESFA’s head of enforcements said: “I am pleased to note the success of this new joint working between the Insolvency Service and ESFA. Failing to keep or deliver up books and records will not preclude the directors of such companies from further scrutiny and sanction. This outcome demonstrates that the ESFA is prepared to take robust action and we will work with regulatory partners across government to hold them to account.”
Asked by FE Week if criminal proceedings will be pursued again Roach, the DfE said: “Following each investigation, the ESFA will refer matters as appropriate to other regulators and criminal prosecutors.”