Suspended sentence for bankrupt who hid asset

A bankrupt tiler from Cardiff has been given a suspended prison sentence after he tried to hide a property asset which should have been used to pay his debts, including a £100,000 tax bill

Darren Pole, a self-employed tiler, was declared bankrupt in October 2013 following a petition by the tax authorities for unpaid taxes of more than £100,000.

Initially he told the Official Receiver that he only owned two properties that had no equity in them. However, following the appointment of a trustee in bankruptcy, further investigations identified a third property Pole owned. The property was mortgage-free and had equity of at least £70,000, making it his most valuable asset.

When Pole was confronted about his failure to disclose the third property, he stated that he was holding the property in trust for a friend, despite being shown as the owner on the Land Registry.

At Cardiff Magistrates Court Pole stood trial for making a material omission in a statement relating to his affairs in failing to disclose an asset in his bankruptcy, and was found guilty.

Pole received a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, fined £1,000, with 45 days imprisonment in default, and ordered to pay costs of £3,884, along with a victim surcharge of £150.

During sentencing the judge said: ‘It is essential that there be honesty in bankruptcy proceedings – the “bankruptcy bargain”. Where people are not honest it is inevitable that a custodial sentence will follow’.

Rob Kilgour, investigation officer, of the Insolvency Service, said: ‘As a bankrupt you have a duty to declare all your assets as these will be used to clear your debts.

‘But Darren Pole decided to take the law into his hands when he sidestep the rules and failed to declare the third property in order to avoid paying what he rightfully owed as a bankrupt.

‘Hiding assets is a serious offence and Darren Pole’s sentence should serve as a stark warning to others that we will use all our powers to not only find your hidden assets but pursue enforcement action against those that flout the law for their own personal gain.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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