London, UK and Mumbai, India, March 13, 2020 -- Three Indian-origin company directors – two based in Mumbai and one in London – have been banned for 21 years after they failed to rein in a call centre that used aggressive and misleading tactics to secure sales from vulnerable people in the UK.
The Insolvency Service said on Thursday that Ramakant Lal, Melvine Elias D’Silva and Soriyano D’Souza each signed 7-year disqualification undertaking; they are banned from acting as directors or directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
While D’Silva (44) is from Hounslow, west London, D’Souza (35) and Ramakant Lal (37), are from Mumbai, the service said.
They were directors of a company called Vivid Lifestyle Limited, incorporated in 2013 and trading in health supplements. The company was wound-up in August 2018 following confidential enquiries after the service received complaints about its activities.
Investigators discovered that throughout the life of the company, the three directors had allowed the company to trade with a lack of commercial probity and failed to provide suitable governance over their sales agents.
"The company used an overseas call centre to sell the health supplements but without proper supervision, the sales agents pursued high-pressure sales tactics to dupe vulnerable people into buying the products", the service said.
Sales agents often misled customers in thinking they were medically trained, had appropriate medical qualifications or worked with the National Health Service. Call centre staff also wrongfully claimed they were existing health care providers or were calling on behalf of a government organisation.
Besides, the service said the three directors failed to ensure customer credit card and bank details were used for their intended purpose. Investigators assessed that the company secured more than £1.9 million from just over 11,000 customers.
Martin Gitner of the Insolvency Service said: "As directors, it was entirely down to Ramakant Lal, Melvine Elias D’Silva and Soriyano D’souza to supervise the activities of the call centre they had contracted to sell their products".
"Their conduct as directors was completely unacceptable and these substantial bans, along with the courts approval to liquidate Vivid Lifestyle, should put a stop to their misconduct, while protecting vulnerable people from further harm".
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Monday, March 16, 2020
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