Thursday 11 April 2019 8:29 pm

Chair of troubled energy supplier URE Energy blasted by ex-investors

The chairman of one of Britain's troubled energy challengers has left a string of dissolved businesses and angry investors in his wake.

URE Energy, chaired by prolific businessman John Coombs, was ordered by regulator Ofgem to pay a £209,000 fine by 31 March after it failed to make payments required because not enough of the energy it supplied came from renewable sources.

Ofgem would not confirm whether the firm had met the deadline.

Read more: Ofgem announces tougher new rules for fledgling energy companies

As of today, URE Energy’s website was no longer online.

Ofgem announced today it was introducing tough new rules for energy suppliers after a string of failures in the last 18 months, including a “fit and proper” person test for shareholders and senior managers of new companies.

URE Energy was incorporated in July 2016, with Coombs appointed as a director in August 2017.

Coombs, not to be confused with his namesake at the Stobart Group, has been a director of dozens of companies including Carousel Communications, Heywood Environmental, Shares 4 U, Magna 3000, Newlife Plastics and Freetel.

Coombs has also been chief executive of pest control company Vectorcide since March 2015 and was in charge of a similar company, Biocide International, where he was a director until September 2015.

Investors in Biocide, which received its first gazette notice for compulsory strike-off on 12 March after failing to file accounts, allege Coombs transferred the company’s key product to Vectorcide before leaving, with no notification of the deal in either company’s accounts.

Read more: Ofgem mulls action against URE Energy

Shareholders in Biocide allege Coombs encouraged them to invest with promises of an imminent float on Aim or US exchange Nasdaq or the prospect of an acquisition.

One investor, James Stratton, said: “I have had plenty of talk from Coombs about ‘so and so will invest at this price’ then always some excuse why it didn’t happen.”

Coombs told City A.M. he was merely a non-executive of URE, not an exec, and said he expected the issue with Ofgem to be resolved. He also denied he had transferred Biocide’s key product to Vectorcide.

He added: “One of the issues that Biocide and Vectorcide had is we have been a victim of a campaign of trolling conducted by a former associate of the company…that has been one of the principal reasons we haven’t been able to engage in fundraising and other activities and it has damaged some of our contracts.”