News that a former director has been banned by the Insolvency Service from acting for a period of four years is a timely reminder that regulators working together can draw from a pool of sanctions to penalise offending individuals.
Keith Nicholas Hancock, of Manchester, was sole director of "Lad Media Limited", a lead generation and data brokerage business operating in the financial services, debt management and consumer claims sector. In January 2017 it was served with a Monetary Penalty Notice of £50,000 (subsequently reduced to £20,000 on appeal) by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), for serious contraventions of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (the laws governing the sending of SMS, email and other electronic marketing) arising from the sending of more than 393,000 unsolicited SMS messages.
Lad Media failed to pay the debt, however, and the company was shut down in 2018 as a result of a winding up order issued on the petition of the ICO.
The ICO and the Insolvency Service do not have a formal memorandum of understanding, although this firm has been told by the IC that a formal sharing arrangement is likely to exist in the future. They also do not have express statutory obligations to share information between them. However, the ICO made a referral to the Insolvency Service, and - following further investigations - Hancock has been banned for four years from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the formation or management of a company.
Miscreant directors should certainly fear this coming together of regulators, but, more than that, anyone subject to investigation by the ICO should be aware that information can be - and increasingly is - shared, and that regulators exercising their powers in concert can sometimes prove more than the sum of their parts.
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