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Banned businessman jailed for two years

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: October 31, 2012

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A FORMER Ashbourne businessman has been jailed after pleading guilty to breaching a disqualification order and for the theft of a horsebox. 

John Michael Ludlam, 69, formerly of Somersal Herbert, was sentenced to two years imprisonment and given 10 years disqualification as a director by Nottingham Crown Court.

Ludlam received 13 months for breaching the director’s disqualification order and 11 months for theft. The conviction, on Thursday, follows a criminal prosecution by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.  The court heard the defendant was the subject of two previous disqualification orders having been disqualified in May 2002 for six years and again in December 2007 for a period of 10 years until 2017.

His new disqualification order now adds another five years to his previous one.

The 2007 disqualification order was made at Leicester Crown Court following the defendant’s conviction for a number of offences including that of acting in the management of a company whilst disqualified. As a result, he was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment in 2007.  The court also heard that despite his previous conviction and two disqualification orders, Ludlam managed the companies Standards for Europe Ltd trading as SEL Ltd and The ICT Forum Ltd, at a time he knew that to do so was in breach of both disqualification orders. The companies supplied information technology services to businesses.  During the period of the first charge the defendant made important commercial decisions dealing with customers, recruited staff, held the purse strings and treated the company money as his own to spend.  He also dealt with the tax authorities and the customers saw him as the person in control.  On the charge of acting in breach of his disqualification, evidence showed that in the course of the proceedings at Leicester Crown Court, a restraint order was made against Ludlam in August 2006 leading to the freezing of his personal and ICT’s bank accounts.  The court heard that in order to continue to receive money, a new company was started up, Standards For Europe Ltd in October 2006.  A bank account was opened in the new company’s name and customers were asked to pay money into that account.  The money from that account was used to fund a lavish lifestyle which included payments to Harrods, hotels, restaurants, holidays and legal fees covering the defendant’s bankruptcy proceedings.  A sum of £208,000 went through this account, none of which was for legitimate company expenses.  Despite the healthy appearance of the company’s bank account, the accounts filed at Companies House showed that the company was making a loss.

On the Theft Act charge, the court heard that in November 2005 the defendant ordered a horsebox costing £111,000.  To fund the cost, the defendant’s wife entered into a lease hire purchase agreement with Lombard North Central Finance. The terms of the agreement were that title to the horsebox remained with the finance company until all instalments had been paid.  However, in June 2007 the defendant sold the horsebox for £96,000 negotiating the sale price and acting as the salesman.

He did not pay the proceeds of sale to the finance company and used bank accounts held by the company and family members to receive the funds.  In August 2007, the agreement with the finance company was in arrears and they contacted the defendant. He falsely stated to the finance company that the agreement was in arrears was because his wife was terminally ill.

In sentencing Mr Ludlam, His Honour Judge Head said to the defendant: "You are a thoroughly dishonest person with no regard for the requirements of the law"

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