Businessman who created £400k false invoice banned from running companies

Caption: Hermann Twickler, Managing Director of PressureFab Group and Andy Curran, previous owner of Houston's of Cupar.
Caption: Hermann Twickler, Managing Director of PressureFab Group and Andy Curran, previous owner of Houston's of Cupar.
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An award-winning businessman who created a false invoice for more than £425,000 as his firm was going bust has been banned from running a company for 11 years.

Hermann Twickler was lauded by the business community after he used his life savings to launch Pressure-Fab, an oil and gas industry equipment supplier, and quickly turned it into a success story.

The German-born tycoon started the Dundee-based firm in 2010 and was named Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 after the firm raced to a £6 million annual turnover and a skilled workforce of 90.

Pressure-Fab designed and manufactured specialist rig topside and subsea equipment and was considered Scotland’s largest offshore container manufacturer.

In 2013 Mr Twickler, 48, was named Business Leader of the Year, and the company reported a near £1m profit.

However the downturn in the oil and gas industry led to orders drying up and the company was placed into administration in July, 2016, and its remaining 42 employees made redundant.

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The Insolvency Service launched an investigation into the company and discovered that a month before the administration Mr Twickler submitted details of a false invoice for £426,600 to his bank.

He had an agreement in place with the bank to provide him with finance to help with cash flow while awaiting payment of invoices.

The probe discovered that Pressure-Fab was given a payment of £250,000 from the lender after it sent the bogus invoice and Mr Twickler personally received £78,000 of the sum.

The businessman, of Dundee, has now been disqualified from acting as a company director until 2029.

The Insolvency Service’s investigation report reads: “Investigation by the Insolvency Service found that the company had a Receivables Finance Agreement with a bank.

“On 14 June 2016, Hermann Twickler caused or allowed PressureFab Limited to submit details of a false invoice in the sum of £426,600 under the Receivables Finance Agreement.

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“The company submitted a false invoice totalling £426,600 to the bank and in good faith the bank made funds available to the company.

“On 15 June 2016 the company drew down £250,000 from the finance provider following submission of the details of the false invoice.

“On 17 June 2016 Hermann Twickler withdrew £78,000 from the company bank account for his own benefit, the rest being used to prop up his other associated companies. No funds have been recovered by the finance provider.”

It is understood the Insolvency Service are considering passing on the findings of their investigation to Police Scotland.

The probe found Pressure-Fab owed more than £1.1 million to creditors after going bust. Five other companies owned by Mr Twickler were also placed into administration in July, 2016.

He was declared bankrupt last year with debts of more than £500,000.

Mr Twickler, who trained in Germany as a master manufacturer and was a former executive at shipbuilders VT, ploughed £500,000 into the Scottish start-up.

Operating from a 250,000 sq ft facility next to the A90, the group had the resources to design and fabricate bespoke projects up to 2000 tonnes of steel volume and single components of up to 50 tonnes.

A spokesman for the Insolvency Service confirmed Mr Twickler had been made subject to an 11-year disqualification order.