Three connected companies that operated a charity collection scam have been closed down in the public interest by the High Court in London, following an investigation by Company Investigations of the Insolvency Service.
The companies are Air Ambulance Support Community Interest Company, St Anthony (formerly Air Ambulance Service Trading) and St Anthony Repatriation (formerly Air Ambulance Service).
Both St Anthony companies had a common director, Anthony Joseph Durkin.
Tomas Mickauskas, a former director of Air Ambulance, worked as a leaflet distributor for the two St Anthony companies.
The investigation found the three companies, primarily targeted residents in the South and Midlands, via ‘Charity bag’ drop offs and collections and made misleading representations that the proceeds raised from the onward sale of unwanted clothing would be donated to local air ambulance charities.
The reality was this did not happen.
Commenting on the case, Investigation Supervisor, David Hill, said: “In winding-up these companies, the court is sending a clear message that schemes which set out to deliberately mislead the public in this manner are not acceptable and will be closed when we become aware of them”.
The investigation also found the companies operated in a similar manner, attempting to pass themselves off as authorised collection agents by making charity bag drops in residential areas, with attached leaflets bearing similarities to the logos of official air ambulance charities, in particular that of Midlands Air Ambulance.
"At no time throughout their trading histories were they ever authorised by any air ambulance service to act as charity fund raisers."
Due to the failure of all three companies to maintain adequate accounting records, it is not known what became of any proceeds generated through the sale of clothing items collected by the companies.
No evidence of donations made to any Air Ambulance Charity was found.
The activities of the companies were also found to be not only misleading but in breach of regulations contained in the House to House Collections Act 1939 concerning door to door leaflet dropping where charitable purposes are included.
Essentially the Act requires companies conducting collections for charitable purposes to obtain a licence. None of the companies had done so.
Several local authorities had received complaints concerning the activities of the companies including Oxfordshire County Council, Poole Borough Council, Wolverhampton City Council and Leicestershire County Council.
Public concern was also expressed in widespread attention given in local publications, including articles in the Worcester News, Gloucestershire News and Burton Mail.