Plymouth businessman banned from being company director after TV station went bankrupt owed almost £2million

A Plymouth businessman has been banned from being a business director for eight years after his television network went bankrupt owing nearly £2million. The Insolvency Service handed Connor Johnson the long disqualification following the liquidation of Rhino Television and Media Ltd in 2021.

The government agency said Mr Johnson failed to ensure the Sisna Park-based business maintained and/or kept adequate accounting records from at least October 2015 until it was liquidated, or that after liquidation, he failed to deliver the records to the joint liquidators when asked to do so.

As a result of those failures, the agency said, it was not possible to establish the accuracy of the accounts filed at Companies House for 2016 and 2017, and said Mr Johnson had admitted filing them without knowing what he was doing and could not. ensure that they comply with company law.

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Mr Johnson is now banned from being a director of any UK or foreign company with UK links, or from setting up, trading or directing a company until 2030. If he breaches the terms of the disqualification , he could be fined or sent to up to two years in prison. Plymouth Live spoke to Mr Johnson about the Insolvency Service ban, but he only said: ‘I will not comment.’

The 49-year-old, who lives in Greenwood Park Road, Plympton, is listed at Companies House as having been a director of 22 companies, most of which are now dissolved. He is listed as a director of the active companies United Technology Group Ltd, Patriot Airways Ltd and Patriot Yachts International Ltd, and must now cease directing them.

In 2020 Mr Johnson, who was once behind an ambitious bid for Devon’s Appledore shipyard, revealed an equally ambitious plan to bring hydrogen-powered planes and boats to the UK. He wanted to test two ships, costing over a million euros for the pair, as water taxis operating between Bristol and Cardiff.

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Mr Johnson was also the owner and founder of Rhino TV, which was incorporated in 2015 and which he said, via a LinkedIn page, plans to launch in 2018 in 50 US states and 68 UK cities, offering 20 channels serving a program. on “history, music, crime and investigation, sports, plus many other new and exciting interests for families, friends and loved ones”. He was looking for advertisers to sponsor entire seasons of shows and appealed, on Twitter, to people wanting to become owners through a “partner sharing offer” in 2016. But there was no post on the thread. Twitter after 2016 and the channel’s site is no longer available.

Liquidators for Leeds-based Gaines Robson Insolvency Ltd were appointed in March 2021. In an update published last week, liquidators said HM Revenue & Customs owed £1,499,849 and the money would be available to pay part of that claim, with £275,000. have already been reimbursed. But five unsecured creditors – who owed a total of £347,860 – are unlikely to see their money returned.

The document, filed at Companies House, also revealed that the liquidators had reported Mr Johnson to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The documents also revealed Mr Johnson had an outstanding loan of £100,000 from Rhino TV and had been asked to provide a sworn statement of his assets, liabilities, income and expenses. But as of the date of the report – May 6, 2022 – there had been no response from Mr Johnson.

The Insolvency Service said that due to Mr Johnson’s accounting failings there remained a number of unanswered questions, including the accuracy and legitimacy of VAT returns submitted on behalf of Rhino TV to HMRC, which led to VAT refunds totaling £1,434,576 between November 2018 and February 2019.

It is also investigating a series of transactions made between January and March 2019 to find out if they are “good faith commercial transactions”. The Insolvency Service wants to know why £393,746 was paid to a ‘related party’, £229,762 was paid to various car suppliers, £113,046 went to ‘unknowns’, £26,257 was paid to “various retail type establishments” and what the purpose of a £14,701 payment to “online gambling providers” was.

It also investigates the purpose of the cash withdrawals totaling £4,610, also between January and March 2019, and whether these withdrawals were applied to bona fide business transactions. And the agency is keen to know the level of assets held by Rhino TV, as well as the number and amount of debtors, and the extent to which joint liquidators “have been impeded in achieving any potential recovery for creditors.”