Press release

11-year ban for Manchester accountant who failed to look after records or deal with tax affairs

Bernard Vincent Haskell, 63, an accountant and director of two accounting companies, has been banned from being a director of a company for 11 years by Manchester County Court for failing to keep proper books and records or deal with the companies’ tax affairs.

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Mr Haskell was a member of the Association of Certified Public Accountants until August 2013, and a director of Haskell Woolfe Accountants Limited and Haskell Woolfe Limited, both of which provided accountancy services.

Commenting on Mr Haskell’s disqualification, which follows an investigation by the Insolvency Service, Robert Clarke, Group Leader of Insolvent Investigations North at the Insolvency Service, said:

Directors have a clear, statutory duty to ensure that their companies maintain proper accounting records, and, following insolvency, deliver them to the office-holder in the interests of fairness and transparency. Companies have limited liability, which is a privilege, not a right. If directors operate outside the legal rules, the privilege will be withdrawn, as Mr Haskell has found out.

Haskell Woolfe Accountants Limited entered into Administration on 27 February 2012 and subsequently went into liquidation on 1 February 2013. The investigation found that Mr Haskell had initially failed to deliver up the company’s records to the Administrator (subsequent Liquidator) as he is required by law to do. Following a court order in October 2013, requiring all records in Mr Haskell’s possession to be delivered up to the Liquidator of Haskell Woolfe Accountants Limited, minimal records were provided by Mr Haskell.

Further records were produced to the Insolvency Service in March 2014, which were still insufficient to adequately explain all of the affairs of the company, and some of which contradicted the records in the possession of the liquidator. As a result, it was impossible to verify the company’s financial dealings, in particular the value of its book debts, the extent of its liabilities and the purpose of payments made from the company’s bank account.

The investigation also found that Mr Haskell had failed to ensure that Haskell Woolfe Accountants Ltd complied with its statutory obligations to make returns and payments to HMRC in respect of VAT, resulting in HMRC being owed £173,756 in respect of VAT at the date of liquidation. Haskell Woolfe Limited entered into Liquidation on 30 July 2012 and the investigation found it too had failed to comply with its statutory obligations to HMRC in respect of VAT and PAYE/NIC, resulting in HMRC being owed £91,754 at the date of liquidation

The companies had a combined deficiency of more than £750,000 and the Disqualification of Mr Haskell was by order of Manchester County Court on 7 July 2014.

Notes to Editors

Haskell Woolfe Accountants Limited was incorporated on 14 March 2007 and was placed into Administration on 27 February 2012. Haskell Woolfe Limited was incorporated on 27 March 2006 and went into compulsory liquidation on 30 July 2012.

The disqualification order against Mr Haskell was made by Manchester County Court following a hearing on 7 July 2014. He is of Manchester and his date of birth is 17 June 1951.

A disqualification order has the effect that without specific permission of a court, a person with a disqualification cannot;

  • act as a director of a company;
  • take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership;
  • act as an insolvency practitioner; or
  • be a receiver of a company’s property.

In addition many other restrictions are placed on disqualified directors by other regulations.

Disqualification undertakings are the administrative equivalent of a disqualification order but do not involve court proceedings.

Further information on director disqualifications and restrictions can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/information-about-company-director-disqualification

The Insolvency Service administers the insolvency regime, investigating all compulsory liquidations and individual insolvencies (bankruptcies) through the Official Receiver to establish why they became insolvent. It may also use powers under the Companies Act 1985 to conduct confidential fact-finding investigations into the activities of live limited companies in the UK. In addition, the agency authorises and regulates the insolvency profession, deals with disqualification of directors in corporate failures, assesses and pays statutory entitlement to redundancy payments when an employer cannot or will not pay employees, provides banking and investment services for bankruptcy and liquidation estate funds and advises ministers and other government departments on insolvency law and practice. Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct, is available from:

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/insolvency-service

Media enquiries only should be directed to: Kathryn Montague, Media & Campaigns Manager on 0207 674 6910 or Ade Daramy, Media Manager on 0207 596 6187.

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Published 19 August 2014