ASONS Solicitors ceased trading today.
The controversial law firm promised a "fresh start" for its employees and the people of Bolton, as it announced that it had been sold to a company called Coops Law.
It also announced that Dr Imran Akram has left the business. Companies House said it was unaware the firm had been sold and currently has no record of Coops Law.
Asons refused to disclose the identity of the directors of Coops Law or answer any further questions.
In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, the firm said that it would honour the terms and conditions of a £300,000 grant it was awarded under emergency powers by Bolton Council last year.
The council says it is unaware of the change in ownership and will seek "urgent clarification" on the matter to determine whether the grant money should be repaid.
A council spokesman said: "Asons has not contacted the council about any change in ownership. "We are seeking urgent clarification and should the grant conditions have been breached, we will take immediate and robust steps to recover the payment."
It is understood that there is a clause in the grant agreement between Asons and the council which states that the grant can be recovered under certain circumstances should Asons cease to operate.
The Churchgate-based firm, which has taken down its website and Twitter page, confirmed that there will be no job losses and all employees have been transferred to Coops Law.
An Asons spokesperson said: “This is a fresh start for everyone — the employees and the people of Bolton."
Asons Solicitors was founded in 2008, with Imran Akram as its chief executive and Kamran Akram is its principal.
The firm moved into is Churchgate offices, the former home of The Bolton News, last year, having previously been based in Bark Street.
It was revealed in November that the council had given Asons a £300,000 grant to assist with the refurbishment of the town centre site, a decision that was taken in a private meeting that was not open to the press, public, or opposition parties.
Margaret Asquith, the council's chief executive, admitted in January the cash should "probably not" have been granted under the emergency powers procedure.
Last month, the council confirmed that it had received proof of the grant's spending and that the money is recoverable should Asons not continue to employ at least 120 people at its Newspaper House office.
An independent audit into the council's decision to award the grant under emergency powers is being carried out by KPMG and the results are expected shortly.
Asons also recently agreed to pay back almost £70,000 to AXA Insurance after admitting to falsely inflating its legal costs.
Tory leader, Cllr David Greenhalgh, said: "The decision to give Asons £300,000 of taxpayers money was flawed at every level, and if that money now cannot be retrieved, because of contractual loop holes, then someone has to take responsibility."
Cllr Sean Hornby, UKIP group leader, said: "I am happy with with council's response to this news. If there has been any breach of the grant terms, urgent steps must be taken to recover all of the money."
Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Roger Hayes, said that the council should take "every effort" to claim back the grant should the terms have been breached.
Last edited by Sluffy on Sun Mar 26 2017, 00:22; edited 1 time in total