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Apprenticeship boss banned over £3.5m missing funds

Apprenticeship boss banned over £3.5m missing funds
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

London-based director of apprenticeships training provider failed to explain spending that included more than £2.5m of public funding

Shakar Habib, 28, from Newham, London, was the sole director of Vista Training Solutions Limited, based in Newham, which provided training to students through enterprise schemes.

Due to his failure to keep company accounts and record government grants he has been banned from being a director for six years.

Habib had been the company’s director since November 2015, until it went into liquidation in February 2020. The company worked with partner organisations to deliver apprenticeships across London and received most of its funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

But when the business folded, an investigation by the Insolvency Service, working with ESFA, found that Habib could not account for nearly £3.5m from the company’s accounts and owed over £2.5m to ESFA.

Investigators discovered that Habib had failed to keep adequate company accounts – a legal obligation for company directors – and that records from April 2019 onwards were missing.

They were therefore unable to verify whether £3.5m of payments from the company’s bank accounts during its final year of trading were legitimate company expenses.

The company’s liquidator was also unable to account for £525,000 in assets due to lack of financial records.

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ESFA is continuing to work with the insolvency practitioner to support their investigations for potential recovery of money.

Marc Symons, deputy head of investigations at the Insolvency Service, said: ‘Shakar Habib disregarded his legal duty to keep accounting records. But thanks to the joint working between ESFA and the Insolvency Service, he has been removed from the corporate arena for a substantial period.

‘His ban should be a stark warning to other rogue directors that we will act to protect the public from those who abuse taxpayers’ money.’

Andrew Thomas, director, finance and provider market oversight (ESFA) said: ‘This successful outcome demonstrates that ESFA will take robust action and work with regulatory partners across government to hold individuals and organisations to account.’

The secretary of state for business accepted a disqualification undertaking from Habib, and his six-year ban began on 21 November 2023.

It prevents him from becoming involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

For more information on apprenticeships, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Is the apprentice minimum wage rate being removed?

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