The director of an Ipswich timber merchant has been banned from running a company for 10 years.

An Insolvency Service probe found that Stephen Charles Aldous, director of Forestsale Limited, failed to keep adequate accounts and traded in breach of VAT regulations.

Forestsale sold timber to local businesses and individuals. The company went into liquidation on 15 June 2011 owing £706,460 to creditors, of which £451,433 was owed in tax. The Insolvency Service investigation showed that it was not possible to identify the recipients of cheques worth £401,103.

It was also not possible to establish why £33,170 was paid out for what appeared to be non-business expenditure.

Further investigation showed that the company deregistered for VAT on 1 October 2003, at a time when its turnover exceeded the registration threshold.

Following an inspection by HMRC, it was discovered that between 1 October 2003 and 15 June 2011 Forestsale had sales of close to £4m, yet failed to account for VAT owed on these sales – which meant a tax debt of £450,000 went unpaid.

Commenting on the disqualification, Mark Bruce, a chief examiner at The Insolvency Service, said: “Directors who seek an unfair advantage over their competitors by not paying tax should not expect to get away with it. Mr Aldous displayed a cynical attitude to the payment of tax and nearly £500,000 has been lost to the taxpayer. This money could have paid for essential public services.

“Furthermore, the law requires that company directors must maintain sufficient accounting records that show and explain the company’s transactions. This director failed to do either and the volume of unexplained transactions over its trading lifetime was highly suspicious.”