The ex-directors of failed broker Ward Evans face D-day this week with The Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) deadline to launch any legal action against them.

The DTI has until 18 December to decide whether to start legal proceedings against any of the directors of Ward Evans Group it suspects of having broken the law in connection with the collapse of the Leeds-based broker two years ago.

At the time a report from administrator Ernst & Young found a £4m hole in Ward Evans' accounts, together with "improper withdrawal of funds" from the company's IBA account to service its overdraft.

Company directors were described by Ernst & Young as having lifestyles that were "excessive and not commensurate with a business of this scale". They were also accused of mixing personal and business purchases.

Among the perks enjoyed by Ward Evans directors were a £240,000 yacht moored in Majorca, a London flat constantly stocked with champagne, ten season tickets to Leeds United and helicopter trips to sporting events such as Grand Prix meetings.

The company went into liquidation on December 18 2002.

Both the DTI and Ernst & Young declined to comment.