Manchester accountant disqualified as director over £265k tax debt

A former member of the Association of Certified Public Accountants (ACPA), who was the director of two accounting companies in Manchester, owed HMRC over £265,000 and has been banned from being a director of a company for 11 years for failing to keep proper books and records or deal with the companies’ tax affairs


Bernard Haskell was an ACPA member until August 2013 and a director of Haskell Woolfe Accountants Ltd and Haskell Woolfe Ltd, both of which provided accountancy services. Haskell Woolfe Accountants Ltd entered into administration on 27 February 2012 and subsequently went into liquidation on 1 February 2013. 

An Insolvency Service investigation found that Haskell had initially failed to deliver up the company’s records to the administrator (subsequent liquidator) as required by law. Following a court order in October 2013, requiring all records in Haskell’s possession to be delivered up to the liquidator, the accountant supplied only minimal records. 

Further records were provided 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 VAT returns and payments, resulting in £173,756 owing to HMRC at the date of liquidation.

The second firm, Haskell Woolfe Ltd, entered into liquidation on 30 July 2012 and the investigation found it too had failed to comply with its VAT and PAYE/NIC obligations, resulting in HMRC being owed £91,754 at the date of liquidation.

The companies had a combined deficiency of more than £750,000. 

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 If directors operate outside the legal rules, the privilege will be withdrawn, as Mr Haskell has found out.’

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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