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TONY HETHERINGTON: Number plate boss faces tax knockout
"I am writing about your article in January regarding Registrations 4 Vehicles Ltd.
I too have been subject to this company’s sharp practice. In June last year I enquired about a personal licence plate and was told it was for sale.
I paid £862 for it as a gift for my wife. This was hard-earned money, paid in good faith from my savings. Since then, after more than 30 phone calls, false promises from the company and no replies to letters, I have got nothing except the loss of my money.
Why is this company allowed to carry on trading? T.C."
Why indeed? Registrations 4 Vehicles has ripped off a growing number of clients, apparently with impunity.
It claims to be a multi-million-pound business and a major dealer in personal licence plates, but it simply swerves around the law whenever its boss Rakesh Verma fancies.
In January, Financial Mail revealed how customers had won court orders to get their money back, but had not been paid. Since then one customer has said how he hired bailiffs to seize the company’s assets, only to have the bailiffs report that because Registrations 4 Vehicles hides behind a post office box number in Leicester, it had been impossible to find any assets. Companies House records have also been no help in painting a picture of the business’s finances. The last accounts Verma filed cover the year to March 2009. He failed to file accounts for 2010 and 2011. This is an offence and Companies House has begun enforcement action.
Trading Standards officials are also on Verma’s trail. After investigating complaints, including some passed on by police, they are now threatening legal action to protect consumers.
Meanwhile, the list of victims grows. One of the latest is the boxing promoter Frank Warren, who paid thousands of pounds for a licence plate that Verma failed to deliver.
His solicitor, Stephen Taylor Heath of Leeds firm Eatons, told me: ‘It was what seems to be the usual scenario – an application was made for a licence plate, payment was made and then came a series of excuses as to why the registration could not be supplied.’
Warren has sued Registrations 4 Vehicles and won. But when his lawyer contacted me there was no sign of the £6,122 Verma’s company owed him. Another customer, Mr H from Southampton, paid £10,105, but got no number plate and no refund. He sued and won an order for his money plus £3,000 in legal costs.
Eventually Verma handed over the £10,105, but not the costs. It now looks as though the knockout blow that brings the company down may not come from any customer. The taxman is threatening to wind up Registrations 4 Vehicles for non-payment of tax. The High Court case was adjourned two weeks ago, apparently to give Verma a last chance to cough up the cash.
I hope he does. You see, Registrations 4 Vehicles is trying to sue me and the owner of The Mail on Sunday, claiming that a warning we published in May last year caused it to lose business.
The case is due in court at the end of May and I want Verma to be there, to explain why he feels entitled to sue us yet ignore court orders won against him by his own customers.
Verma was invited to comment but all that arrived was a letter from his legal adviser, someone called N. Ramkissoon, who said I was ‘wasting our time with pointless correspondence’.