Apprentice star fraud allegations “destroys decades of work in minutes”

Former Apprentice contestant Raj Dhonota has spoken out about a recent year-long police investigation that finally put paid to claims of fraudulent behaviour during bankruptcy.

Mr Dhonota starred in the first-ever series of the popular TV series aired in 2005, four years after the businessman was first declared bankrupt.

He was fired by Lord Sugar in week nine of the show for his apparent lack of sales skills and his seeming lack of action in the tasks.

However, he went on to run multi-million-pound businesses over many years and inspired thousands of other entrepreneurs across the UK.

Then during the pandemic, he found himself facing his second bankruptcy, which resulted in accusations of fraud.

According to Mr Dhonota, despite the multiple ups and downs of a business career spanning more than 20 years, the false claims of fraud were the hardest to deal with, saying “it destroys decades of work in minutes.”

He said that the fraud claims were coming in while he was doing everything he could to save his business, and when the accusations became personal, he actively encouraged anyone concerned about any wrongdoing on his part to file a complaint for the police to investigate.

The end of the investigation was, therefore, a pivotal moment for Mr Dhonota, as it enabled him to say that there had been no wrongdoing on his part, which had been his consistent assertion.

Commenting on the case, Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said that allegations of fraud should never be made lightly. Indeed, in civil litigation, legal advisers are under a professional obligation not to plead fraud unless they are satisfied that there is material to support such a claim.   

“This often necessitates the early instruction of forensic accountants to examine whether the allegations are supported by relevant financial documentation,” explained Roger.

“As was made clear in the case of King and ors v Stiefel and ors [2021] EWHC 1045 (Comm), it is a common feature of fraud claims, where allegations of dishonesty can cause tensions to run high on all sides, that a claimant will have a “passionate belief in the merits” of its claim. 

“However, that makes it all the more important for the parties and their legal advisers and accountancy experts to adopt a measured and precise approach to ensure that there is sufficient material to justify allegations of dishonesty, especially when a person is already having to deal with insolvency issues.  

He added: “Even in cases, like Mr Dhonota, where a person knows they have done nothing wrong, being investigated by the authorities is incredibly stressful and time-consuming.

“This is where the expertise of a forensic accountant can pay dividends. By providing clear evidence of compliance and helping to exonerate a person of any wrongdoing, our investigations can support the legal process and ensure that a person’s reputation and innocence are protected.”

Sources: Mirror, MSN

Posted in The Forensic Blog.