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BUSINESS RATE REDUCTION CON FOILED

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A north London-based company who falsely claimed to be able to...
A north London-based company who falsely claimed to be able to

provide business rate reductions for small companies in return for

fees of up to£700 has been wound up following an investigation by

the DTI.

The company, Marann Brooks CSV Limited, used telesales operators to

cold call businesses throughout England and Wales offering the

opportunity of a visit from an 'assessor' to evaluate whether their

premises had been subject to excessive business rates.

Assessors sought to sign up businesses to contracts to pay set fees

ranging between£340 to£700 plus VAT, and an additional fee payable

on any rate reduction achieved. But in 23 months of trading the

company failed to negotiate any successful reductions for any of its

customers.

DTI investigators found that the company exploited acknowledgement

letters from the Inland Revenue's valuation office in response to

their proposals to obtain set fees from clients. The company's files

showed no negotiations ever took place with the valuation office and

customer files were mainly left dormant after the set fees had been

paid.

The company also claimed to be a respected firm of surveyors but in

fact did not employ any qualified chartered surveyors, and most of

the company's staff were self-employed sales people. They failed to

maintain adequate accounting records or to account for any Crown

liabilities due to the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise,

despite having actively traded for almost 2 years.

In making the order, Justice Patten said that there were clear public

interest grounds for winding up the company.

Notes

1. A petition to wind up the company was presented to the high court

on 21 June 2002 following enquiries conducted under Section 447 of

the Companies Act 1985. The official receiver was appointed the

liquidator of the company on 4 December 2002 following a winding up

hearing made on that date.

2. The petition was presented under Section 124 of the Insolvency Act

1986.

3. The official receiver has been appointed as liquidator of the

company and will be responsible for investigating the circumstances

of the company's failure and the conduct of the company's directors.

4. Marann Brooks CSV Limited, which traded as Marann Brooks

Consulting, operated from offices at Paul Anthony House, at 724

Holloway Road, north London. This was also the company's registered

office address.

5. The valuation office is an executive agency of the Inland Revenue.

Its main functions include the compilation and maintenance of the

business rating and council tax valuation lists for England and

Wales.

6. All public enquiries concerning the affairs of the companies

should be made to the official receiver at:

The Insolvency Service

Public Interest Unit

PO Box 203

21 Bloomsbury Street

London

WC1B 3QW

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