A director of a company that conned HR departments out of more than £4m has become the final member of the team to be disqualified following a Department of Trade and Industry clampdown on the firm.
Ronald Alexander Porter was a director of the infamous Edinburgh telesales company, Berger & Co plc, which scammed British businesses to the tune of over £4m.
Porter has given an undertaking that he will not be a director for five years, taking the total period of disqualifications of the four directors of Berger to 30 years.
Berger cold-called businesses offering to send them reports giving advice and analysis on management and HR issues. Between August 1999 and December 2000 trading standards officers received 796 complaints about the company.
The reports Berger offered were on a ’21-day free review’, but Berger did not always make clear to firms that they would be charged between £295 and £395 if the reports were not returned within the 21 days.
At its busiest, Berger sent out about 1,200 reports a week.
Demands for payment were often backed up by threats of litigation, usually in a County Court far away from where the business was based. DTI investigations revealed that about 40% of companies which were invoiced actually paid up, taking Berger’s annual turnover to more than £1m.
In November 2004, the managing director of Berger, Filip Peter Lademacher, was disqualified from acting as a director for 13 years and two other directors, Ian Armstrong and David Stirrat, previously gave disqualification undertakings of six years each. So far the directors have made contributions to the DTI’s costs in excess of £70,000.