(Sharecast News) – The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced on Wednesday that it had charged four people, including a former director, in connection with the financial collapse of Patisserie Valerie.
Patisserie Valerie’s 2018 collapse led to the closure of almost 200 high street bakeries and the loss of more than 900 jobs across the UK.
The SFO said it had charged former director and chief financial officer of Patisserie Holdings for 12 years, Christopher Marsh, and his wife, accountant Louise Marsh, as well as financial controller Pritesh Mistry and financial consultant Nileshkumar Lad.
All four suspects were served with charges at their homes.
The SFO said it opened a full investigation into the conduct, codenamed ‘Operation Venom’, two days after the company abruptly suspended trading and revealed its debts in October 2018.
It charged all four suspects with conspiring to inflate the cash in Patisserie Holdings’ balance sheets and annual reports from 2015 to 2018, including by providing false documentation to the company’s auditors.
During that time, the firm also reported holding £28m in accounts, but concealed £10m in debts from its investors and creditors.
The defendants were summoned to appear at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 10 October to hear the charges against them.
“Patisserie Valerie’s abrupt collapse rocked our high streets, leaving boarded-up shops, devastating job losses and significant investor losses in its wake,” said SFO director Lisa Osofsky.
“Today is a step forward in getting to the bottom of this scandal.”
The case brought the total number of individuals charged by the SFO this year to 10, following fraud charges against three individuals in its Ethical Forestry case, and bribery charges against three individuals in its London Mining case.
Reporting by Josh White for Sharecast.com.