Former Halifax Town player, Stephen Oleksewycz, has been imprisoned for 27 months after pleading guilty to five offences under the Fraud Act 2006, Insolvency Act 1986 and Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.
The 39-year-old from Halifax also must pay compensation to two creditors he defrauded.
Oleksewycz was forced to retire early from professional football following an injury, after which he moved into the events industry. In February 2016, he formed An Exp With Ltd as an events promotion company, offering ‘experiences with’ celebrities such as mixed-martial arts fighter Conor McGregor.
Oleksewycz was made bankrupt later in 2016, as he was unable to repay a debt of around £16,000.
Bankrupts are restricted from acting as company directors without permission from the courts. However, Oleksewycz continued to act as a director of his company, running an event featuring McGregor in February 2017.
In addition to the bankruptcy offence, Oleksewycz committed fraud when he falsified bank documents to show payments being made to two companies involved in the McGregor event – EventCity (the venue) and Groovy Gecko (who provided live streaming).
EventCity and Groovy Gecko were due fees of nearly £80,000 and over £15,000 respectively. The doctored bank statements convinced Oleksewycz’s suppliers that money was on the way and the event went ahead.
The venue was paid only £5,000 and Groovy Gecko did not receive a payment. With around £90,000 outstanding in relation to the event, An Exp With Ltd entered liquidation. As a result, Oleksewycz was charged with two offences under the Insolvency Act 1986 section 206 – fraud during the course of winding up.
I spoke to Mark Sands, Head of Insolvency at Apex Litigation Finance, who has a wealth of experience in dealing with personal insolvency cases. He told me that Oleksewycz’s behaviour was all too familiar: “As an insolvency practitioner (IP) who has acted as Trustee of hundreds of bankrupts over the years, it has always been galling how many do not take seriously the obligations and duties placed upon them. For example, they are required to cooperate with their Trustees and identify all their assets, but so often as an IP I had to instruct solicitors and enquiry agents to help me do my job. Here, the bankrupt has blatantly ignored the bar on his acting as a director, and worse still has caused losses to creditors of the company he should not have been controlling.”
Oleksewycz received a sentence of 16 months jail time for each of the insolvency offences, 13 months for acting as a director whilst an undischarged bankrupt and 27 months for each of the two fraud offences under section 11 of the Fraud Act 2006 – obtaining services dishonestly. At Leeds Crown Court, Oleksewycz was ordered to serve the sentences concurrently.
Sands is more surprised by the sentence handed down in the case: “Custodial sentences in bankruptcy matters are extremely rare and the sentence shows just how serious the breaches were in this case. That should send a clear message to undischarged bankrupts – do not ignore the restrictions placed on you, and cooperate with your Trustee.”
Oleksewycz had originally entered a not guilty plea at Leeds Magistrates’ Court in February 2021, but he changed his plea for the five offences and other charges against him were dropped when the case came to trial in June 2023.
About the case, Glenn Wicks, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said:
“Acting as a company director while being an undischarged bankrupt is a serious offence, and to compound this Stephen Oleksewycz deliberately defrauded two businesses who gave him the benefit of the doubt to run an event despite their concerns about his behaviour.”
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