Indian-origin director banned for inaccurate forestry grant claims in UK

Aditi Khanna
·3-min read

London, Mar 10 (PTI) An Indian-origin company director has been handed an 11-year ban on operating firms after the UK's Insolvency Service found that he had incorrectly claimed grants worth around 635,000 pounds from the Forestry Commission.

Pritesh Ladwa, 33, was the director of The Forest Project (TFP) Ltd, set up in 2010 to help create new forests, including reclamation and development of brownfield land into green sites.

Between March 2013 and April 2014, Ladwa is said to have received six grants from the Forestry Commission, a non-ministerial government department in England, to create woodlands in South Yorkshire, County Durham, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. But it was found that he had not ensured the company adhered to the terms and conditions of the grants and the commission asked for the grants to be returned.

'Pritesh Ladwa knew when he applied for these grants to transform areas into forest land that the company did not meet the criteria to receive funding. This was compounded when he claimed that all the required work had been carried out,” said Rob Clarke, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service.

'Although Pritesh Ladwa was convicted in the criminal courts for one of the grants, the disqualification regime has rightly been used to prevent him from being a director for a significant amount of time. The length of this ban should serve as a warning to others who attempt to use grant systems that all aspects of claims must be genuine,' he said.

It turned out that TFP Ltd did not own any of the sites when making the applications and thereafter, inaccurately claimed to the Forestry Commission that in every case all work had been completed. The company then went into liquidation in August 2018 owing 536,870 pounds to the Forestry Commission, as only one grant had been repaid following a confiscation order from earlier criminal proceedings in 2016.

The liquidation of The Forest Project TFP triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service into the director's conduct. Investigators discovered that, as well as the misconduct relating to the grants, between January and July 2018 Ladwa had paid himself more than 67,000 pounds. He also transferred 30,000 pounds to an associate following the sale of company assets.

The Insolvency Service said that Ladwa also failed to deliver accounting records up to the liquidator to explain the reason for these transactions, which took place after the Forestry Commission had sent invoices to reclaim the grants.

On January 22, the government accepted an undertaking from Ladwa banning him from acting as a company director for 11 years after he did not dispute that he provided inaccurate information to the Forestry Commission and failed to adhere to the terms of conditions of the six grants he received.

His ban is effective from February 12 and means that he is banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings. PTI AK ZH ZH