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Finelist men banned for seven years

Two former directors of Finelist, the parts distribution group that failed spectacularly in 2000 with estimated debts of £500m, have been disqualified from being company directors for seven years.

It follows an investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Insolvency Service.

Chris Swan, the group chief executive and a former Midland businessman of the year was disqualified for four years for failing to properly enquire into the cheque kiting policy conducted by the company.

This involved the passing of equal and opposite cheques between two group companies in order to take advantage of the cheque clearing period. The cheques signed by Swann contributed £10m of a total of £18m of artificial credit.

Brian North, a chartered accountant and former non-executive director and deputy chairman of the group was disqualified for three years for failing to deal appropriately with a major whistling blowing incident.

“Mr Swan wholly abdicated his responsibilities of care and control and allowed and participated in the improper practice of cheque kiting. His conduct falls far below the level of competence expected of a director of this position,” says Mr Justice Etherton.

The Stratford-upon-Avon based group had outlets across the UK, including 370 Motor World retail sites. It was one of the leading aftermarket suppliers and employed over 5,500 people when it went into receivership in October 2000.

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