Patisserie Valerie finance chief arrested on suspicion of fraud

Patisserie Valerie finance chief arrested on suspicion of fraud

Friday, October 12, 2018

The suspended finance chief of Patisserie Valerie has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

It comes just days after the café company said it had discovered a “black hole” in its accounts.

The café chain’s parent company, Patisserie Holdings, said in an announcement on Friday that Chris Marsh, who was suspended from his role earlier this week, has since been released.

Hertfordshire Police said: "A 44-year-old man from St Albans has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation.

"He has been released under investigation."

 

'Immediate' cash injection

The investigation is being led by the Serious Fraud Office.

The Serious Fraud Office said: "Following this morning's Regulatory News Service announcement by Patisserie Holdings PLC, the SFO confirms that its director has opened a criminal investigation into an individual.

"We can give no further information or comment at this time."

Patisserie Holdings said on Wednesday that it has been notified of "significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities and therefore a potential material mis-statement of the company's accounts".

Accountancy giant PwC has been drafted in to look through the company's books.

Patisserie Holdings has also received a winding-up petition for its principal trading unit Stonebeach, with a hearing now scheduled for October 31.

It relates to £1.14 million owed to HMRC.

The cake chain warned earlier this week that it will stop trading without an "immediate" cash injection.

 

More than 200 stores

Emergency fundraising talks overseen by advisers to Patisserie Holdings were continuing on Thursday evening. Other options on the table include a loan or a rights issue.

Chairman Luke Johnson is said to be considering stepping in with funds that could help save the business.

Mr Johnson, a serial entrepreneur, is the largest shareholder in Patisserie Holdings with a 37% stake.

Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 stores and also has a partnership with Sainsbury's, with branded counters present in the supermarket.