One of the biggest ever investigations by Brighton and Hove trading standards has ended with no action being taken.
Scores of angry customers complained to the city council after DMB Solutions went bust in January 2018, leaving projects which had already been paid for unfinished, a million pounds of debt and just £126 in the bank.
The council’s trading standards team launched a lengthy investigation, taking dozens of witness statements.
But after taking specialist legal advice, it has decided not to pursue a prosecution. The Insolvency Service said today it had also completed its enquiries and was taking no further action.
However, the firm appointed to oversee the liquidation, Begbies Traynor, is still investigating and the council is assisting their enquiries.
One of DMB’s customers, David Mead, said: “This is exactly what I predicted would happen two years ago.
“When DMB were still trading, hordes of people called in and were told to take them to the small claims court.
“Now they have taken two and a half years and decided they’re not doing anything.
“It’s an absolute mess.”
A council spokesperson said: “In the opinion of the barrister working for the council, there was insufficient evidence to prove the criminal standard of dishonesty on the individuals that ran the company.
“Therefore, the likelihood of mounting a successful prosecution was regarded as unlikely.
“It also did not meet the public interest test as it was a risk to the public purse to pursue a case with little to no prospects of achieving a guilty verdict.
“The liquidator we believe will seek to recover assets wherever it can, but any legal action by the council risked diminishing further any available assets to be distributed back to the public.
“Regrettably it has been decided that no further action will be taken by the council, but Trading Standards will continue to work with the liquidator and if legally able will provide any relevant evidence to them so they can continue their investigation into the company and the individual directors’ affairs.”
When DMB – which stands for Design Manage Build – went bust, it owed £937,000 to creditors, including £542,000 in VAT, £237,000 to trade creditors and £116,000 in social security and other taxes.
This figure doesn’t include the amount owed to customers, which in the most recent liquidators report was still listed as uncertain.
In March 2018, Begbies Traynor said it had been contacted by 47 customers who claimed they were owed a total of £824,000.