The former boss of a personal injury claims management company previously jailed for contempt of court has now been convicted of failing to preserve company accounting records.
Haroon Karim, 35, pleaded guilty at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
District Judge Grace Leong fined him £20,000, ordered that he pay costs of £5,700 and disqualified him from running companies for two years, to run concurrently with a seven-year ban he received in 2018.
In 2019, Mr Karim was jailed for six months for contempt of court after he was found to have forged a claimant’s signature.
He had been a director of ACA Claims, ACA Accident Claims Assistant, Medicals Elite, Easy Go Hire and Medical Healthcare Services, among others.
ACA Accident Claims Assistant entered into creditors voluntary liquidation in August 2016, which triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Mr Karim failed to deliver the company’s records despite repeated requests. He claimed to have delivered them to another party but could not verify this.
Further enquiries uncovered bank records showing that he spent company money on unnecessary expenses despite its debts. One was a designer suit worth £1,000, which he said he bought to attend an awards ceremony.
With a lack of records, neither the liquidator nor the Insolvency Service were able to establish what happened to the company’s tangible assets. This led to Mr Karim signing the seven-year disqualification undertaking in July 2018.
A criminal investigation then began, leading to him being charged on three counts: failing to deliver up books and records to the liquidator; failing to cause ACA Accident Claims Assistant to keep accounting records; and failing to preserve company accounting records. He pleaded guilty ahead of the trial.
Julie Barnes, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Haroon Karim was evasive throughout our enquiries and with a lack of company records was unable to explain exactly what happened to the company assets – something we’ll never know.
“But the court recognised the severity of the claims management boss’ misconduct and not only gave him a new ban from running limited companies but ordered Haroon Karim to pay a substantial fine.”
The 2019 contempt proceedings arose from a previous case where the now-defunct Bolton law firm Asons, together with Mr Karim, were ordered to pay more than £40,000 in costs to insurer LV= over a bogus whiplash claim.
His Honour Judge Godsmark QC at Nottingham County Court ruled that, on the balance of probabilities, Mr Karim had forged the claimant’s signature on various documents, including the claim form used to start proceedings without the claimant’s knowledge.
Although the judge found Asons had been deceived by Mr Karim, he described the former Bolton firm’s conduct as “improper, unreasonable and negligent” in taking on the £3,000 claim without verifying that the claimant was genuinely providing instructions.
Mr Karim was one of Asons’ larger sources of work.