As the summing up continues, Asplin’s defence argue the German directors put the profit he was generating for DAS ahead of any suspicions around his financial interest in other companies
The defence in the fraud case between DAS and its former chief executive Paul Asplin began summing up today.
Asplin and his five co-defendants have been standing trial since April accused of defrauding DAS between 2000-2014.
The case relates to Asplin’s undeclared financial interest in two companies DAS did business with - Med Report and CW Law.
Defending Asplin, QC Adrian Waterman told the jury at Southwark Crown Court that the German directors in charge of DAS at the time must have held strong suspicions as to Asplin’s interest in the companies.
But the arrangement was described as a “win-win” by Waterman, and he argued to the jury that it was the company’s culture of making profit the priority that prevented them from acting on these suspicions.
And he said this indicated the directors could therefore not have interpreted Asplin of prejudicing against DAS or defrauding the company.
“They were not stupid”
Waterman said: “There was a lot of evidence. Someone had overheard Paul Asplin saying he had a beneficial interest in a secret trust, on top of his best friend owning the company (Med Report) and his wife working for the company.
“They (the German directors) were not stupid. They could not have failed to understand what it was that was going on, but there was no appetite to follow up because they were making money and not being defrauded.”
Among other evidence referred to by Waterman included various whistleblowers coming forward and a Sunday Times article suggesting Asplin had a financial interest in Med Report.
Asplin was referred to by one witness as the “goose that laid the golden egg” at DAS. And Waterman told the jury the only explanation for why Asplin was not properly investigated earlier, and why a 2004 audit of Med Report failed to resolve the ownership questions, was because all parties were happy with the profit Asplin was generating for DAS.
“That is the only way that what you have heard can make any sense,” Waterman told the jury.
“No loss to DAS”
The directors took Asplin off negotiating the renewal contract with Med Report in 2005.
Waterman said this, in addition to several meetings between Asplin and the German directors, suggested to Asplin they were aware of his interest in Med Report, but happy to continue the profitable arrangement provided they had more control.
And speaking to the jury Waterman added: “The prosecution have thrown the mud of document after document and witness after witness to show there was a loss to DAS and therefore that Paul Asplin must have been defrauding DAS.
“But there is a fundamental problem with this. There was no loss to DAS obvious or otherwise.”
Standing trial alongside Asplin are his wife Karen Asplin, ex-wife Sally Jones, his friend Robert Dalley, former claims manager at DAS David Kearns, who like Asplin also held a 33% share in Med Report, and Kearns’ wife Jayne Kearns.
All except Mrs Asplin are accused of conspiring to commit fraud in regards of Med Report. Mr and Mrs Asplin and Mr Kearns are also accused of conspiring to commit fraud in regards of CW Law.
The trial continues.