Figure put by prosecutors at confiscation hearing on how much former DAS chief executive Paul Asplin benefitted from defrauding his ex-employer

Disgraced former DAS chief executive Paul Asplin has reappeared in court, as prosecutors chase up to £6.91m from him for defrauding the insurer between 2000 and 2014.

QC Martin Evans, prosecuting on behalf of the crown, claimed at a confiscation hearing on Friday this was the value of Asplin’s financial benefit through carrying out the fraud, for which he was found guilty in July 2018.

Former DAS claims manager David Kearns and Asplin’s ex-wife Sally Jones were also convicted at last year’s trial.

Kearns appeared in court on Friday for the confiscation hearing, where Judge Martin Beddoe ordered him to pay £1.44m within the next six months.

Kearns was said by the crown to have benefitted to the tune of £2.29m through the fraud, but the judge can only confiscate an amount the defendant is able to pay, based on their available assets.

In the question of what assets are available to Asplin, the hearing has seen Asplin’s defence QC Adrian Waterman argue that Asplin’s £4.7m DAS pension was inaccessible to Asplin. Waterman has also argued that a £135,000 loan be discounted from Asplin’s assets, and that his financial interest in a property is less than that claimed by prosecutors.

Pension asset

However, on Friday, Asplin was dealt a blow, as Judge Beddoe ordered that the pension was an asset of Asplin. He also ordered that Asplin held a 72% financial interest in a £250,000 property, and a 50% interest in a property valued at £1.7m.

The pension had previously been withheld from Asplin by DAS when he had requested it, amid suspicions about Asplin. But Judge Beddoe said DAS had good reason to do this and that “the actions of the trustees do not prohibit Mr Asplin’s right to the asset.”

He added: “If the trustees were able to release the funds to allow a confiscation to be realised they will do so.”

In the course of proceedings Judge Beddoe also rejected Waterman’s claim that the loan should be discounted.

“Unsecured debts don’t effect the passage of confiscation,” Judge Beddoe said. “It is something in law I am obliged to ignore. The confiscation regime takes priority.”

When Waterman asked how Asplin will be able to repay the debt following the confiscation order, Judge Beddoe said the lender will have “to sing for it”.

Jones hasn’t appeared in court to dispute the prosecutors’ claims against her. They put her financial benefit from the fraud at £2.45m, with available assets valued at £1.56m. However, the judge has yet to officially make the confiscation order to Jones.

The fraud against the legal expenses insurer involved setting up a firm called Med Report, which DAS proceeded to do business with. Asplin and Kearns failed to disclose to DAS their financial interest in the company, and on sentencing last year Judge Beddoe said Asplin had abused his position of power.

Compensation order plan

Prosecutors are planning to make a compensation order that would see the money confiscated from Asplin, Kearns and Jones used to pay DAS.

However, Waterman on Friday disputed the terms of the compensation order, particularly that DAS’s losses from the fraud could be equated to the benefit of the three defendants. He said there was no way of quantifying any losses DAS may have suffered from the fraud.

“It’s not either a correct statement of fact or fair to the public purse to identify secret profits as losses for which DAS should be compensated,” he said.

“Taking a secret profit cannot be a basis for an actual compensatable loss to DAS, because DAS did not lose anything as a result of what happened.

“It was paying for something, and the profits of that company being paid as secret profits to the defendants. That’s an entirely different thing to a loss to DAS for which it needs to be compensated.”

Evans argued that “none of the money would have been paid had the crime not been committed”. He said a loss to DAS of £4m was referred to by Judge Beddoe in his closing remarks while sentencing last year, although Waterman said this was only the “possibility of loss”.

The confiscation hearing continues.