The disqualification followed an investigation by The Insolvency Service, which said that Stephen Charles Aldous, director of Ipswich-based Forestsale Ltd, failed to keep adequate accounts, causing his company to trade in breach of VAT regulations.

The company went into liquidation in June 2011, owing £706, 460 to creditors, of which £451,433 was owed to HMRC.

The investigation found that a lack of records from June 30, 2009 to June 15, 2011 made it impossible to identify cheque recipients worth £401,103.

Investigators also could not establish why £33,170 was paid out for an apparent non-business expense, or explain the origin of £23,429 into the company’s bank account.

The true position of stock at the date of liquidation and how much VAT was owed was also unexplained. Investigators found Forestsale Ltd deregistered for VAT in 2003 at a time when its turnover exceeded the registration threshold.

It was discovered that between October 1, 2003 and June 15, 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.

“Directors who seek an unfair advantage over their competitors by not paying tax should not expect to get away with it,” said Mark Bruce, a chief examiner at The Insolvency Service.

“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.”