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Kent Car Dealer Cheats Customers of £120,000

Published 27 June 2019

Sevenoaks second-hand car dealer,  Andrew John Austin (52) has been disqualified as a company director for mis-selling luxury vehicles and misappropriating £77,000 worth of customer’s funds.

Austin was the sole director of Karden (Europe) Ltd, a second-hand car dealership incorporated in August 2010. In the summer of 2016, Austin caused Karden to mis-sell two luxury sports cars. The first, in July 2016. Austin sold claiming it was finance-free, despite knowing this was not the case.

After conducting his own vehicle check, the customer found out weeks later that Austin had sold the car under false pretences and tried to return it for a full refund. However, the customer only received a fraction of what he originally paid.

The second luxury car was sold a month later in August 2016 where the customer paid a significant deposit and arranged finance to cover the remainder of the balance. Both deposit and finance were paid to Karden. but the company failed to deliver the car and neither the finance nor the deposit were returned to the customer when requested. £16,500 was also transferred to Andrew Austin’s personal bank account.

And from October 2016, Karden stopped passing on the proceeds of consignment sales to clients, amounting to almost £28,000.

A petition to wind up the company was presented to the courts by creditors in February 2017. Yet, within the following three months, Karden took almost £49,000 in further sales withheld these proceeds from clients, too.

Before the petition could be heard by the courts, Karden entered into Creditors Voluntary Liquidation on 17 May 2017, with creditors claiming over £120,000.

The report of the liquidators appointed to wind up the company to the Insolvency Service triggered an investigation into the conduct of Andrew Austin as director, which uncovered the offences he had carried out.

On 29 April 2019, the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Andrew John Austin. His ban, effective from 20 May 2019, lasts 11 years and disqualifies him from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Andrew Austin was, in separate proceedings, made bankrupt in October 2018 at the County Court in Hastings over affairs relating to Karden. The judge accepted that Andrew Austin was personally liable for some of the debts incurred by the company, and he was declared bankrupt.

Marc Symons, Deputy Head of Investigations, said:

"Andrew Austin has driven his customers round the bend, robbing them of the freedom and joy that can come with a new set of wheels, as well as their hard-earned money.

"This disqualification will severely impede him from causing harm to any other members of his community and serves as a warning that this behaviour will not be tolerated."

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. Persons subject to a disqualification order are bound by a range of restrictions.

Of course, while the Insolvency Service did its job, which is all it is empowered to do, no further form of prosecution seems to have taken place, nor any attempt to recover the lost money.

A lesson for anyone thinking of selling their car on consignment, or of consignining it to certain auctioneers.

More on this case: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/car-dealer-banned-for-11-years-for-withholding-clients-money

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

Comments

Engineer Andy    on 27 June 2019

Sell his home, any cars and significant possesions and give all the proceeds to those he owes money to, plus their costs.

masiv    on 29 June 2019

How the hell isn't that fraud?

Jamesetyefirst    on 7 July 2019

If he'd been caught doing 45mph on a dry , sunny day , in a 40 mph zone , however they would have thrown the book at him

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