Five arrested in widening Patisserie Valerie fraud investigation

Josh Hall's picture

Five arrests have been made as the investigation into the collapse of Patisserie Valerie deepens.

As the Financial Times reports, the Serious Fraud Office this morning said the arrests had been made last week during a joint operation between the SFO and a number of police forces.

The news signals the gathering pace of the investigation into alleged fraud at the cafe chain, at which auditors allege staff and suppliers were responsible for a £40 million fraud.

The business entered administration earlier this year, at the cost of hundreds of jobs.

Former finance director Chris Marsh was arrested in October and subsequently bailed without charge.

The identities of the most recent arrestees has not been made public, but the Sunday Times reports that those arrested do not include former executive director Luke Johnson, nor non-executive directors Lee Ginsberg and James Horler.

Johnson is a columnist for the Sunday Times. Writing in the paper earlier this month, he claimed that news of the fraud was like entering a "nightmare parallel universe."

Johnson used his column to insist he is not guilty of any wrongdoing. He wrote: "On October 9 last year, I went to work as usual and found myself walking into what felt like a nightmare parallel universe. That morning, Paul May, chief executive of Patisserie Holdings, the AIM-listed chain of cake shops where I was chairman and biggest shareholder, told me our bank accounts had been frozen. We’d thought we had £28.8m of cash in the bank. In fact, we had almost £10m of debt, with £9.7m drawn down on two secret overdrafts."

The businessman continued: "It’s taken me almost nine months to come to terms with what happened. I know that I was not dishonest. I was unaware of fraud. My life will always be influenced by Patisserie Holdings, but does that mean I should give up my 35-year career in business? I don’t think so."

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