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Investigation uncovers fraudulent Forestry Commission claims

A businessman who defrauded the Forestry Commission of almost £635,000 worth of Government grants has been banned from being a company director for 11 years.

Pritesh Ladwa was sole director of The Forest Project TFP Limited (“TFP”), which was ostensibly set up to create new woodlands, from January 2013 to August 2018 when the company went into liquidation.

Between March 2013 and April 2014, the business applied for and received six grants from the Forestry Commission worth almost £635,000. These were to be used to create new woodland areas in South Yorkshire, County Durham, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire partly from brownfield sites.

However, TFP did not own any of the sites when it made the grant applications and claimed to the Forestry Commission that in every case all work had been completed.

When the deception was discovered, the Forestry Commission asked for the grants to be returned but only received payment for one of them, following a confiscation order from earlier criminal proceedings in 2016. This reduced the outstanding amount of the claim to £536,870.

Following the company’s liquidation, the Insolvency Service instigated an investigation into Mr Ladwa’s conduct and found that as well as the misconduct relating to the grants, between January and July 2018 he had paid himself more than £67,000.

He had also transferred £30,000 to an associate following the sale of company assets. Mr Ladwa had failed to provide accounting records to the liquidator to explain the reasons for these transactions, which took place after the Forestry Commission had sent invoices to the business to reclaim the grants.

Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon, said: “In such a case, evidence is needed to establish whether or not a director’s conduct could be considered fraudulent.

“In this instance, it was clear that Mr Ladwa had provided inaccurate information to the Forestry Commission and had failed to adhere to the terms and conditions of the grants he received.”

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