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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Five year ban for rogue agent who used deposits to run business

An agent has been disqualified from managing companies for five years after she failed to safeguard £28,000 worth of tenants’ deposits and rent destined for landlords.

The investigation into Jane Russell’s conduct began after the agency of which she was a sole director went into liquidation in August 2018 following difficult trading conditions.

Investigators from the Insolvency Service investigated why Jonathan Waters Estate Agents Limited collapsed and found that Russell, from Frinton-on-Sea in Essex, failed to comply with laws requiring all tenant deposits to be placed in a recognised scheme.

Russell had worked for the Ipswich-based agency for many years before she acquired it in September 2014.

After the company entered into liquidation, investigators discovered it had no record of 11 tenants’ deposits totalling £12,000 that had been received between March and August 2018, while tenants’ deposits received between April 2017 and August 2018, totalling £20,000, hadn’t been paid into an approved scheme.

The company had also collected just over £7,000 of rent from tenants between March and August 2018. This should have been paid over to the tenants’ landlords but had instead been spent in the general running costs of the business.

The agency incurred a total of just over £28,000 worth of losses to tenants and landlords, with the money generally being spent on the running costs of the business.

Last month the Secretary of State accepted a disqualification undertaking from Russell; the ban is effective from this coming Friday, February 14, after which she is banned for five years from acting as a director, or directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Rob Sheils, a senior investigator for the Insolvency Service, says: “A fundamental part of Jane Russell’s role was being responsible for safeguarding money on behalf of her tenants and landlords, something she failed to do prior to the company falling into liquidation. This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors who safeguard money from doing likewise.”

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