'Dishonest and reckless' Richardson banned over Beanscene insolvency

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FORMER coffee shop tycoon Gordon Richardson has been banned from being a company director for six years after being described as "dishonest and reckless" by authorities.

• Gordon Richardson was banned from being a company director after an inquiry following the collapse of his Beanscene coffee house chain

The disqualification comes as the result of an investigation by the Insolvency Service which found the Beanscene director had taken 189,000 from the company to pay back a loan while it was technically insolvent.

The two-year probe was launched after Beanscene went bust in July 2008 with debts of 3.7 million.

Richardson last night said he "disagreed with the findings".

"They based their report on a version of events," he said.

"Yes, I was repaid loans but any money repaid to me was with the full consent of the board directors. It was a fraction of what I had loaned to the company and obviously the equity I had in there which amounted to hundreds of thousands of pounds is now lost. I was a major creditor to Beanscene."

The six-year ban kicked in last week and Richardson will not be able to be a director of a UK company until September 2016.

Richardson will have to resign his one current directorship of The Really Hot Pizza Company, which is listed as dormant.

The Insolvency Service said that between 4 October 2006 and 20 March 2008 Richardson withdrew funds totalling at least 189,000 from Beanscene in addition to his 80,000 salary. This was despite the fact the firm had been trading insolvently from as early as 2005.

The government agency, part of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, said Beanscene had "significant historic debt" to HM Revenue and Customs, adding there was a "real and acknowledged risk" by the board of the coffee chain that the tax man could have lodged a winding up petition against it.

Richardson had loaned 100,000 to Widescreen Holdings, the non-trading parent company of Beanscene sometime after October 2006, but the service claimed he had also agreed not to take repayment of the loan until the firm had been sold. Another unnamed director who had extended loans worth 390,000 to the firm did not receive any money.

Richardson founded Beanscene in 1999 with ambitious plans to rival major coffee chains such as Starbucks and Caffe Nero. He aimed to have 100 coffee and music houses around the UK. After the collapse, Beanscene was bought in October 2008 by Scottish entrepreneur Fiona Hamilton. Richardson had unsuccessfully attempted to buy the coffee chain back out of administration after having been ousted by the firm's board four months before it collapsed.

In June this year Richardson was declared bankrupt for a second time after a previous incidence in 1992.

When the administrators were called in, Beanscene had 15 outlets and a turnover of about 4.2m.Now the chain has 13 cafes, including branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Ayr, Stirling and Hawick, after being bought by Hamilton.

An Insolvency Service spokesman said: "The disqualification of Gordon Richardson should offer the public reassurance. The Insolvency Service will not hesitate to use its powers to remove dishonest and reckless people from the business environment."

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