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Company committed ‘repeated fraud’

  • 19 November 2013
  • By Roger Brown

Traffic commissioner (TC) for London and the South East Nick Denton has revoked the O-licence of LVH Services after it dishonestly obtained 16 tax discs and failed to pay vehicle excise duty.

Following an October public inquiry in Eastbourne, the TC said Stephen Pennington, former director of the Sheerness, Kent-based firm, had presided over a “fraudulent and incompetent vehicle operation” , and handed him an indefinite disqualification.

In March this year, Vosa examiners visited the operating centre of the company – authorised to run 25 vehicles and 25 trailers – and found issues with vehicle maintenance procedures and driver record-keeping. Transport manager Vivienne Swann could only produce a few tachograph charts and more than 13,000km of mileage was unaccounted for.

Cheques for the 16 tax discs had been dishonoured, with a loss of more than £8,000 to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). LVH had also been prosecuted and fined for failing to pay vehicle excise duty on seven occasions, with more prosecutions pending.

A vehicle examiner found that 30 routine vehicle safety inspections were not carried out on time, with some overdue by five or more weeks. Some routine safety inspections for vehicles were missed and vehicles had also not been signed off as roadworthy. A total of 19 vehicles had been prohibited due to defects between September 2011 and the date of the inquiry, including one for a safety-critical defect – a missing brake drum.

TC Denton also noted the company was subject to a proposal to be struck off the Companies House register.
The TC examined the performance of Swann, who did not attend the inquiry. He concluded that many of the basic functions of the role – such as driver scheduling, keeping tachograph records and ensuring vehicles were given safety inspections by the due date – had been performed by someone else or not at all.

TC Denton ruled that Swann had lost her professional competence, and disqualified her from the industry. The TC said Pennington, who also did not attend the PI, had sidestepped his responsibilities and behaved in a “shameful manner”. He added that the firm had been involved in a “gross and repeated fraud”.

The TC concluded: “By presiding over a fraudulent and incompetent operation, he (Pennington) has shown that he is unfit to be the director of a transport operator company.”  TC Denton also noted a connection between LVH Services – a company majority owned by Steven Heard – and other O-licence holding companies controlled by Steven, Richard and Philip Heard. As a result, he asked Vosa to investigate any links.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/company-committed-repeated-fraud