Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Mark Bottjer, from Colchester, Essex, had voluntarily signed a three-and-a-half-year disqualification undertaking in May 2014 after Boxperfect Presentation Packaging Ltd, of which he was director, went into administration and he was deemed to be unfit to act as a company director.
This meant he was restricted from managing and forming companies unless he had permission from the courts.
Following the undertaking, Bottjer terminated his directorship of another packaging company he was a registered director of, Redbox Packaging Design Ltd, and then appointed himself as company secretary for both Redbox Packaging Design and a separate company, Boxperfect International Ltd.
Despite the appearance that he had stepped back from managing the two packaging companies, he had continued to act as director of both Redbox Packaging Design and Boxperfect International.
Evidence seen by the court demonstrated that Bottjer had led meetings and negotiations for more than a year with a high-profile London retailer shortly after his ban. He continued to play prominent roles in the businesses, including determining company purchases and making decisions about company finances, strategy and legal proceedings.
He also gave the impression to staff that his role had not changed when he stepped down as director after his disqualification.
Susan Linda Hearn, from Great Oakley, Essex, had also been involved in the management of Boxperfect International and, despite being aware of Bottjer’s disqualification, she facilitated a number of his decisions to maintain the appearance that he was no longer running the company, including negotiating with the tax authorities.
Bottjer appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday (28 February) after he pleaded guilty to three counts of acting as a director while subject to a disqualification undertaking.
He was joined at court by Hearn after she pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting Bottjer to breach his disqualification.
Bottjer received a 10-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to complete 250 hours of community service while Hearn received a two-year community order of 150 hours of unpaid work and 30 days rehabilitation.
The pair were also handed directorship disqualifications by Judge Christopher Morgan. Bottjer is banned for 12 years while Hearn is disqualified from running companies for seven years.
Before passing sentence, the judge also heard that Bottjer formed another company, known as International Packaging Brands Ltd, and had made payment for its formation while he was restricted under the terms of his disqualification undertaking.
The court noted that all three companies failed. Redbox Packaging Design went into creditors' voluntary liquidation in March 2015, Boxperfect International fell into administration in November 2015, and International Packaging Brands entered creditors' voluntary liquidation in August 2018.
Ian West, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: "Disqualifications impose significant restrictions on your ability from managing companies. But Mark Bottjer completely disregarded the law when he continued to play prominent roles in three different businesses despite being banned from doing so.
“Whether that was making financial decisions or even talking to liquidators when one of the companies was being wound-up. He was aided in his actions by Susan Hearn and the courts have rightfully recognised that the pair had broken the law, resulting in their sentences.”