Judge disqualifies Wolstenholmes members from running companies
PUBLISHED September 4, 2014
Three former members of collapsed LLP Wolstenholmes have each been banned from running a business for 15 years.
The Insolvency Service has confirmed that Mario Cardinali and Waseem Saddique were disqualified from being company directors by court order in the Manchester District Registry in June. A further former member, Nasir Ilyas, accepted an undertaking to not be involved in the management of a limited company.
Four other members, Imran Hussain, Bilal Khawaja, Helen Murgatroyd and Bobby Shabbir, have made similar undertakings since 2012 to stop them managing companies for between five and nine years.
The Midlands-based conveyancing firm closed down in 2009 after an intervention by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Around £12.7m had been paid in compensation claims to around 2,500 former clients in the first four years after it closed.
Giving his judgment on Saddique and Cardinali, His Honour Judge Budge said the public had been entitled to place 'absolute trust' in the firm.
'That trust was abused at great cost to members of the public and at great cost to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and to the Solicitors Compensation Fund. Fraud of the kind which was rife under their management in my judgment justifies a disqualification period of the maximum that the law allows, that is the period of 15 years.'
The Insolvency Service had led the investigation into the actions of the former directors and welcomed the latest disqualifications.
The disqualifications followed an inquiry by the SRA in which it was found the practice traded fraudulently and without adequate financial controls and procedures in place. The firm also failed to maintain adequate accounting records and filed false stamp duty land transfer returns.
The SRA brought proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal on 3 May 2013, and orders were made against Imran Hussain and Asma Qayum - both struck off the roll of solicitors - and Khawaja and Ms Helen Murgatroyd (suspended for one year and two years respectively).
The case against Ilyas was adjourned and is due to be heard in October 2014.
The SRA had previously made orders against Saddique, Cardinali, Mohammed Kazi and Iftab Hussain as a result of their involvement with the firm that none of them can be employed or remunerated in connection with a solicitor's practice without the permission of the SRA.