There are fewer people extending golden goblets to Prags these days.*

Pragnesh Modhwadia, the former Managing Partner of Axiom Ince, allegedly forged bank letters to conceal from his firm, the SRA and Pinsent Masons that millions of pounds were missing from its client account.

Axiom Ince went into administration after a £65m black hole was discovered and the SRA intervened. It is now suing Modhwadia in the High Court, where it has alleged that he doctored a letter to give the impression that £57m was being held across 200 client accounts at the State Bank of India.

In fact, there was an £18m debit in the account which related to an outstanding loan, claims the firm. 

Modhwadia presented his forged handiwork to Axiom Ince when it began probing rumours that money had gone astray.

Pinsent Masons acted for Axiom Ince when the SRA opened an investigation into Modhwadia and he has been accused of attempting to foil it with a forgery as well. 

Lawyers from Pinsents arranged to drop in on the Wolverhampton branch of Axiom's bank to quiz staff directly about the client account situation.

News of the impending visit allegedly sent the entrepreneurial founder back to work with his scissors and tip-ex, and after adding a fake signature to a second forged bank letter he raced to Wolverhampton ahead of Pinsents.

On arrival he attempted to persuade staff to present his exculpatory letter to Pinsent Masons in the hope that its lawyers would in turn pass it on to the SRA, claimed Axiom Ince.

The alleged scheme didn’t work, although, as Modhwadia has since admitted that he spent most of the missing £65m buying and renovating his property empire and on the purchases of Ince Gordon Dadds and Plexus, perhaps it did.

In an update the SRA has said that a levy on all solicitors is looking “likely” to plug the gap in its compensation fund created by Modhwadia’s alleged antics.

“Although we have not made any decision about what this means for a collection of funds from the profession, it looks likely that, after years of keeping them stable, we will need to increase levies”, said the SRA. ROF estimates that it could equate to a £500 charge per solicitor.

The SRA has defended its response to the crisis. “The sole shareholder at the firm was suspected of misusing significant amounts of client money, resulting in a shortage on the client account estimated to be more than £60 million”, it said.

Even though the missing money meant it was “not possible for the whole firm to carry on operating”, the SRA initially intervened only in Modhwadia’s practice and those of two other directors in order to protect clients, it said.

Then it “worked with the remaining directors to achieve as orderly closure as possible in the circumstances”, which by most accounts reaching ROF involved absolute chaos as stoic staff ploughed on to the end. For their efforts, the solicitors among them may soon be billed around £500 each. 

*Thanks to the source who provided this snap. But come on, where's the helicopter/Vegas footage? 


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Foreign Office Prags 10 November 23 08:47

Oh look, forged bank statements. Good job the police aren't involved, I'm sure they have to deal with more important matters.

Ghost of Gordon Dadds 10 November 23 09:08

I was at legacy IGD for my sins. The week before King Prags was suspended I recall being told he was unwell and no one could get hold of him. It all becomes clear…

Anonymous 10 November 23 09:09

The story of Prags driving up to the Birmingham branch of the Bank of India with a whole bag full of altered bank statements and a forged letter from the Bank of India account manager is now a comic chapter in an otherwise tragic episode. That was how he got caught.
As a "brown" solicitor who works for a modest salary and who keeps well within the rules, I feel my heart sink every time I see a Prags or Vinay Veneik and I worry about the effect on the perception of South Asian Solicitors in the UK.

Mr Wise 10 November 23 09:18

"Pinsent Masons acted for Axiom Ince when the SRA opened an investigation into Modhwadia"

Hang on. Pinsent Masons acted for Plexus Law in connection with the sale to Axiom Ince.

Some conflict, surely?

next PC renewal 10 November 23 09:19

Some Adobe/PDF editor work would save us from funding the incompetent SRA and the SRA Compensation Fund that can be so easily called upon (and is not even sufficient to cover Modhwadia's embezzling)

Anonymous 10 November 23 09:36

they are

Anon 10 November 23 09:37

Why didn’t Pinsent check source of funds when acting for the Ince pre pack?? Pinsent are complicit in this. Their due diligence should have picked this up in May when the Ince deal happened.

Anon 10 November 23 09:38

Where is the CFO in all this? And where is Praggy’s assistant Ben who was director of some of the companies.

Anonymous Two 10 November 23 09:40

Now would be a great time for Jonathan Metliss (Axiom Ince Chairman) to step up and offer some words of comfort.

Prags Math 10 November 23 09:53

Ok, so, Big Daddy Prags' cack-handed attempt to account for £18m makes for bewildering and highly amusing reading, but...

Why was nobody asking about the remaining FORTY SEVEN MILLION POUNDS that he seemingly hadn't even tried to account for?!?!

This is a particularly pressing question, given that it was immediately obvious to me during one short Teams call that Mr Modhwadia is as clear an unscrupulous grifter as one could possibly imagine.

I understand that it was a desperate time for both Ince and Plexus - it was not fun to be there in the run up to the sale - but the partners are not stupid people (far from it). Certainly, in the case of Plexus, I find it hard to accept that nobody turned around to the SRA and said "actually, we think we should sell to the other bidder, because this man is brazenly a con artist". Maybe they did.

Maybe it really is entirely the SRA's fault. Will we ever know?!

One day, I will leave law to write a six-part drama about this. Everything about it is completely mad.

Lydia 10 November 23 09:53

The SRA is rushing to make solicitors fund presumably their lawyers and accountant fees for starting the investigation as presumably nothing is yet ready to be paid to those claiming on the compensation fund. Yet there is supposedly a cap on claims the SRA can impose so why not apply the cap? If this first big claim means the cap is not imposed why have a cap at all?

Secondly a lot of people need to be sued before asking low paid solicitors to pay £500 which will be half a month's rent for many. Pinsent's investigations into its client's source of funds should be looked into as they or their insurers may be liable. Then look at claiming every Ince partner's assets/ homes/ pensions/ cars who made a profit on the sale to Axiom etc. The money went somewhere. Private eye says that the fraudster's properties are all mortgaged to the hilt. So look into all that in case they were mortgaged to release cash and trace that cash. If most of the funds went to buy Ince and the other law firm then those who benefited from that should be losing what they were paid long before ordinary solicitors have to pay.

I do think there are a lot of grounds for solicitors to litigate against the SRA if it makes a claim for the £500 per solicitor including application for an injunction to stop that payment having to be made.

Also I never approved of the Clementi reforms. I practice as a sole trader. My word is my bond. I don't even have a limited company, am not an LLP. I don't see why I who has never had a complaint in nearly 40 years should pay for a situation which has arisen because the regulator foolishly allowed a wide range of changes which have been for the bad.

Praggytits 10 November 23 10:48

What a lunatic, you have to give it to him it takes some bollocks to attempt to pull this off.

TheRealPragnesh 10 November 23 11:30

I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for these meddling bar stewards

Disgruntled 10 November 23 11:42

Anyone who's lost out should make a claim as a creditor against the firm's assets. The insolvency practitioners should look behind the veil (fraud) of the firm and liquidate any and all Prag's (and any associates) assets. Like any other affected party when business goes under, the creditors may only get a marginal rate of pence in the pound on what they're owed. That should be the end of it.

If the SRA want to top up by compensating out of the fund, then it can do so at its discretion, but it's not for us to make up the difference. The LSB should be fining the SRA for letting it get to this stage.

Directors of Axiom 10 November 23 12:12

Directors practising certificates have not been renewed!!! Should have done my job properly 😩

Ghost of Gordon Dadds 10 November 23 12:38

Lydia 10 November 23 09:53

Lydia, the partners of Ince made no money from the same of the firm. In fact many lost quite a bit. It was owned by The Ince Group Plc which was in turn owned by its shareholders, some of whom were Ince partners who lost the lot. Ince was sold for circa £2 million, £1 million upfront, the rest in instalments. All that was supposed to go to the Administrator (Quantuma) to pay the debts of the Ince Group although it seems that half of it won't go there.

Sorry to burst your bubble on that.

Marshall Hall 10 November 23 12:52

I hope that the SRA is making appropriate enquiries of the law firms that acted for this bloke as to his source of funds when he went on his spending spree.

The COFA and MLRO of such firm(s) appear to have some explaining to do, and hopefully the SRA will be able to get a full indemnity from those firms in respect of misfeasance of client funds.

New Contributor 10 November 23 14:29

Watch him disappear next. He's probably already made his own passport out of the cornflakes pack. How on earth has he not been arrested? I think the profession should start a private prosecution against him. If we are required to underwrite his little spending frenzy, then we are ultimately the victims and have the standing to prosecute.

Ghost of Gordon Dadds 10 November 23 14:42

@ Marshall Hall 10 November 23 12:52

He *was* the COLP of the law firm that acted for him on those acquisitions. Axiom DWFM/Axiom Ince. I believe he was MLRO as well but may be wrong about that.

Anonymous 10 November 23 14:52

To ex employees - is anyone bringing an ET claim for the failure to consult on redundancies?

Curious 10 November 23 15:38

Did Modhwadia get the inspiration for the Axiom name from Timothy Schools, convicted over the £19.6m+ he dishonestly acquired from the Axiom Legal Financing Ltd fund?

Meanwhile, the 1400 hapless employees seem very quiet - they must know something they can share with us about what happened, how, who knew, and more???

Ghost of Gordon Dadds 10 November 23 15:56

@Curious 10 November 23 15:38

On the contrary. Quite a lot of former employees (including me - I was at Ince and my firm was taken over by this guy in late April) post on here. I have strong suspicions about a number of people at Axiom and I was far less than thrilled to be taken over at the time, admittedly because I was unimpressed by the Axiom DWFM lawyers, rather than any suspicions of fraud.

SRA funding 10 November 23 16:46

If the SRA has a funding shortfall due to its own mismanagement, it needs to borrow money and recoup their costs from the firms who need enforcement and intervention rather than demanding it from the whole profession.

Baffled 10 November 23 19:11

Anon 14:52

What exactly is there to consult on when a firm goes bust? There were hardly any alternatives were there? Who would they have made representations to ? What discretions were available. There. Were. No. Jobs.

Sir Woke XR Remainer FBPE MBE 10 November 23 19:47

There should be absolutely no obligation on other solicitors (or indeed the SRA itself) to cover the costs of any shortfall over and above the balance of the indemnity fund. Firms are private businesses and those who deal with them are not entitled to expect unlimited recourse to other, entirely uninvolved members of the profession if they’re stung. It is a mockery that the members of a firm that goes down can be protected by unlimited liability status while their losses get socialised across the entire profession on a potentially unlimited basis. The sooner we abandon regulated profession status and become an honest trade, the better.

Gannicus 11 November 23 08:47

How do you invest 60 mill in UK property and make a loss (unless you are the utter incompetents at the SRA who can’t even do their own day job) - I reckon there should be an excess not a loss and look forward to a nice cheque from the SEA with my slice of the profits in a “reverse levy”.

Reply to Prags Math 11 November 23 09:41

Nobody wants to read your inane comments let alone a book. Comments saying the Plexus Partners arent stupid is laughable (i worked in the Leeds office and i can tell you they are muppets). Oh i get it, your book would be a comedy. Actually i think i would read it

Anonymous 11 November 23 18:19

It was fookin obvious. Shit kicker law firm contours up cash to buy Ince and Plexus. The SRA turned a blind eye.

Annoyed 12 November 23 07:49

"Modhwadia has since admitted that he spent most of the missing £65m buying and renovating his property empire and on the purchases of Ince Gordon Dadds and Plexus" Is his property "empire" being liquidated to help with financial recovery? Might reduce the profession's underwrting of his fraud.

Real estate chappie 12 November 23 13:01

State Bank of India... says it all (Glad it wasn't Bank of Baroda!)
I really dodged a bullet with these guys two years ago

Ne exeat regno 13 November 23 18:22

The SRA needs to apply for a Writ of Ne Exeat Regno so that Prags and his motley crew need to surrender their passports.

42 Practising Certificates 14 November 23 09:48

If I'm going to have to pony up my £500, I think I'd be more sanguine about it if we'd been done over by some sort of modern day Professor Moriarty. Instead we've stitched up like kippers by a complete amateur chancer whose dealings should have been under the SRA's microscope a long time ago.

Interested party 14 November 23 18:22

SFO and 80 officers reported as completing 9 raids and 7 interests this morning in the evening standard!

To 09.41 re Prag Maths 14 November 23 19:45

The Plexus Partners may well be stupid. They allowed the sale of the firm in 2019 and that deal was almost as dodgy as Prag’s deal. After all, £25m got paid back, didn’t it! 

ShootyOriginal 15 November 23 22:37

Anon at 20:13:

The Pragnificent Seven.


ROF Gods, I hereby cede you the rights to use that moniker in your next article, as long as you credit me.

Prag the tycoon 16 November 23 18:05

This might save us the extra £500 each on SRA fees !

Anonymous 16 November 23 19:41

Just because £64m was transferred from Client to office account and then to Prags personal account do not assume that all clients will want these monies returning and will be making claims

Lydia 16 November 23 19:53

I hope after the recent arrests they have not been let out on bail if people are flight risks with connections to other countries even if passports are handed in.
I am not happy to pay £500. i don't hold clients' money. I never approved of the Clementi and other reforms and everyone else involved from Ince partners who made money on the sale to all those advising and their insurance should be gone after first AND the SRA has a £5m cap on claims so why not just put the cap on this one or else why have a cap at all?

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