A Birmingham-based forestry director has been issued with an 11-year ban after fraudulently claiming £635,000 in government forestry grants.

From January 2013, Pritesh Ladwa was the sole director of The Forest Project Ltd, which was incorporated in June 2010.

While he was director, Ladwa received six grants from the Forestry Commission between March 2013 and April 2014, worth almost £635,000, to create woodlands in South Yorkshire, County Durham, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The Forest Project, however, did not own any of the sites when making the applications and thereafter, inaccurately claimed to the Forestry Commission that in every case all work had been completed.

It was found that Ladwa had not ensured the company adhered to the terms and conditions of the grants and the Forestry Commission asked for the grants to be returned.

Company liquidation

The Forest Project Ltd then went into liquidation in August 2018 owing £536,870 to the Forestry Commission. Only one grant had been repaid following a confiscation order from earlier criminal proceedings in 2016.

The liquidation of The Forest Project triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service into Ladwa’s conduct.

Investigators discovered that, as well as the misconduct relating to the grants, between January and July 2018 he had paid himself more than £67,000. He also transferred £30,000 to an associate following the sale of company assets.

Pritesh Ladwa failed to deliver accounting records to the liquidator to explain the reason for these transactions, which took place after the Forestry Commission had sent invoices to reclaim the grants.

On January 22, the Secretary of State accepted an undertaking from Pritesh Ladwa banning him from acting as a company director for 11 years after he did not dispute that he provided inaccurate information to the Forestry Commission and failed to adhere to the terms of conditions of the six grants he received.

Ladwa’s ban started on February 12, 2021 and means that he is banned from directly or indirectly becoming involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.