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Property developer behind incomplete Northampton football stadium banned

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  • 06/02/2019
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Property developer behind incomplete Northampton football stadium banned
A property developer who received millions in council funding to redevelop a football stadium has been banned by the Insolvency Service.

 

His 10-year disqualification as a company director follows an investigation into his opaque administration of over £6m of public funding to aid the redevelopment of Sixfields Stadium.

Howard Lawrence Grossman, 57, from Bushey, Hertfordshire, incorporated 1st Land Limited in August 2013 to act as the contractor for Northampton Town Football Club who wished to redevelop the Sixfields Stadium.

Grossman was appointed the sole director of the company and between December 2013 and July 2014, 1st Land received a balance of at least £6m from Northampton FC to go towards the costs of redeveloping the stadium. The football club in-turn received the funds from the local authority – Northampton Borough Council.

However, by January 2015, 1st Land entered into administration following the petition of a creditor before entering into Creditors Voluntarily Liquidation in December 2015.

Due to the high profile nature of the collapse and the use of public funds, the Insolvency Service carried out an investigation in the public’s interest into the collapse of 1st Land and Grossman’s conduct while a director.

 

The investigation

Investigators discovered that Howard Grossman failed to ensure the company maintained adequate accounting records or deliver a sufficient amount of records to the administrators. Subsequently, it has been not possible to determine the exact nature of more than £5.6m worth of payments made to various parties from the company’s accounts.

Roughly £2.65m of transfers were made to two separate third parties, but it is unclear if they were loans, why they were paid or under what terms.

Another payment investigators were unable to establish was whether approximately £1.5m was paid to the benefit of Grossman, his family and other connected parties and whether such payments were treated as dividends.

Ultimately, Grossman did not dispute his failure to preserve adequate accounting records, or his failure ultimately to deliver accounts to the joint administrators.

Sue MacLeod, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Howard Grossman, like all directors, had specific duties as a company director but he blatantly disregarded them.

“The company’s insufficiencies when it came to record keeping means that we are unable to determine the exact nature of payments worth millions of pounds of tax-payers money, who along with supporters of the football club are the real victims here.”

Northamptonshire Police is continuing its nationwide investigation into the missing Northampton Borough Council loan money and is working with other prosecuting authorities to recover the public funds.

 

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