AN ENTREPRENEUR acquitted in a huge fraudulent trading case is considering legal action against the banks that he blames for his five-year ordeal.
Richard Dixon, former managing director of Just Vans Self Drive Limited, was acquitted at Carlisle Crown Court of all charges of fraudulent trading. Mr Dixon had been accused of fraud in relation to the disposal of 292 cars, which the prosecution claimed he had no right to sell or pass on to others as they were owned by banks under hire purchase agreements. He was also accused of trading while insolvent.
Following his acquittal, Mr Dixon’s legal firm, business crime specialists Rahman Ravelli Solicitors, said that their client was considering “all his legal options’’ as he blamed the banks for the collapse of his Carlisle-based company.
Aziz Rahman of Rahman Ravelli said: “Mr Dixon is obviously very pleased to have been acquitted of the charges against him. He has always maintained his innocence through what has been a very trying five years.
“But while he is glad to have had his innocence proven, he is also angry and frustrated at the way he and his company were treated during the investigation that led to him being charged.
“He will be meeting with us in the very near future to consider what legal direction he can go down to seek redress for the mistreatment he believes he has suffered.’’
Mr Dixon’s firm, of Cocklakes Yard, Cocklakes, Carlisle, was founded in 1995 as a van hire company. In 2003, Just Vans started bulk buying and selling vehicles and later moved into the luxury vehicle rental market.
The prosecution unsuccessfully claimed that Just Vans sold 292 vehicles that it had purchased via hire purchase agreements. Prosecutors alleged that Just Vans kept the sales proceeds instead of settling the HP agreements it had entered into with the banks when purchasing the vehicles.
It was alleged that by August 2008 Just Vans owed £2.3M on vehicles that it had sold after buying them on HP from various banks.
But Mr Dixon’s defence team successfully argued that the banks had been aware throughout of his business practices and the sales options he offered his customers, many of whom had been loyal to the business for a number of years.
It was successfully argued by the defence that if had not been for the actions of the banks, Just vans could have continued to trade throughout a very difficult financial period. In calling in administrators, the banks denied Mr Dixon the opportunity to ‘ride the storm’ created by the recession.
Mr Dixon’s legal team also stated that the High Street banks failed to mitigate their losses, allowing some customers to keep vehicles even when they had not paid for them in full and, in some cases, not even trying to trace the vans and cars.
After a six-week trial, it took the jury just a day to acquit Mr Dixon of all allegations.