Northampton

Howard Grossman: Northampton Town 'missing millions' developer banned

Howard Grossman and wife Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Property developer Howard Grossman, pictured with his wife, is banned from running companies for 10 years

A property developer has been banned from running companies for 10 years after failing to provide accounting records to explain more than £5m missing from a football club loan.

Howard Grossman, 57, was investigated after the collapse of 1st Land Ltd.

The company received more than £7m from a council loan for a still-unfinished stadium redevelopment at Northampton Town.

The Insolvency Service said Mr Grossman had "blatantly disregarded" his duties.

The businessman, from Bushey in Hertfordshire, has given a voluntary undertaking to be disqualified as a director for 10 years. He did not answer questions when contacted by the BBC.

Mr Grossman, who did not deny failing to keep accounting records and breaches in his fiduciary duties, had been facing a civil trial by the Insolvency Service at the High Court in London on Wednesday.

Sue MacLeod, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: "Mr Grossman's insufficiencies when it came to record keeping mean that we are unable to determine the whereabouts of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money, who, along with supporters of the football club are the real victims here.

"Thanks to the joint working with Northamptonshire Police, we have been able to secure a substantial ban for Howard Grossman.

"If he breaches his disqualification, he risks being sent to prison."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Work is yet to be finished at the Sixfields Stadium

Northamptonshire Police has submitted criminal case files on 30 suspects to the Crown Prosecution Service in connection with the missing loan.

The Insolvency Service said Mr Grossman made dividend payments of almost £1.5m to benefit himself and his family members "causing 1st Land to be in a position whereby it could not meet its financial liabilities whilst the loans remained outstanding".

It said inadequate records meant it was not possible to establish the purpose of payments totalling £1.27m made from 1st Land bank accounts.

The Insolvency Service also could not establish whether two payments totalling £2.6m made to the then football club owners Anthony and David Cardoza were made as loans.

Image caption David Cardoza (right) and his father Anthony (left) were ordered to pay back more than £2m last month

Mr Grossman has been the director of 25 companies over the past 14 years.

Three years ago, the BBC revealed one of his previous firms had gone into administration with debts of £1.2m

The administrator submitted a report on the conduct of Mr Grossman and another director over outstanding loans of £145,000. No action was taken at the time.

Last month, Northampton Borough Council, which loaned £10.25m for the stadium development, won a High Court case against the former owners of the football club.

Anthony Cardoza was ordered to repay £2.1m while his son David - the former club chairman - was ordered to repay money used to rebuild his house.

Northampton Town Supporters Trust said it "welcomed the banning order" imposed on Mr Grossman.

A statement added: "This news follows on from last week's High Court judgment in which Northampton Borough Council was successful in its action against David and Anthony Cardoza in respect of their actions while directors of Northampton Town Football Club.

"Although the judgment ordering the repayment to the Council of very significant sums of money will not benefit the football club, we are delighted for the taxpayers of Northampton."

Mr Grossman has been given two weeks to put his affairs in order before the ban comes into force.

He is disqualified from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.

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