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Seven recruitment companies have been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Governmentâ€™s Companies Investigation Branch (CIB), the Government Monitor reports.
The companies, apparently controlled by the same two directors, were engaged in â€˜cold callingâ€™ organisations and deceiving them into paying additional money for job advertisements already placed in reputable publications. The Court heard that six of the seven companies obtained more than 600,000 Pounds between August 2006 and March 2009 through this misleading behaviour.
The investigation by CIB, with assistance from the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service, found that representatives of these companies were phoning Health Trusts and other organisations under the pretense of confirming the details of job advertisements already published in existing, reputable publications. In fact, the organisations were unknowingly agreeing to place a new advertisement in an unrelated publication, for which the companies would charge a fee.
BMJ UK Limited, for example, had a similar name to the British Medical Journal, often abbreviated to â€œBMJâ€?, a reputable and long-established publication which carries job advertisements for the medical profession, and which has no connection to BMJ UK.
Head of Investigations and Enforcement at the Insolvency Service, Robert Burns, said, "these companies were engaged in behaviour which was designed to extract money from advertisers under false pretenses. The organisations contacted by these companies were duped into booking advertisements they had no need of placing, and which were of little or no commercial benefit to them. This is a good example of cross-government working and we would like to thank the NHS counter-fraud service for their assistance in this matter."
"CIB will not hesitate to investigate companies who engage in deceptive behaviour like this, and seek to wind them up in the public interest."
Dermid McCausland, Managing Director, NHS Counter Fraud Service said "the targeting of the NHS for private gain is something which the NHS Counter Fraud Service won't tolerate. We routinely work in partnership with bodies such as the Companies Investigation Branch to ensure that firm action can be taken."
Amongst other allegations, the Court also heard that attempts had been made to dissolve some of the companies before proceedings could be brought, by furnishing false information to Companies House suggesting that the companies had ceased to trade at a time when the investigation showed that they were still taking money and issuing invoices.
A seventh company, Reload Recruitment Limited, was wound up as it appeared to be connected to the other six companies and was carrying on similar activities.
The official receiver was appointed provisional liquidator of the companies earlier this year on the application of the Secretary of State, to protect assets in the possession or under the control of the company pending the determination of the petition.