FOUR people have been charged over the collapse of the bakery chain Patisserie Valerie, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said.
In January 2019, the company collapsed into administration after a £40-million hole was found in its finances. A month later, Dublin-based Causeway Capital Partners purchased 96 sites of the firm.
The SFO on Wednesday (13) said it brought charges against Patisserie Holdings’ former director and chief financial officer Christopher Marsh, his accountant wife Louise, financial controller Pritesh Mistry and financial consultant Nileshkumar Lad.
They are due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on October 10.
All four defendants are suspected to have conspired 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 the period, the cafe chain also reported holding £28m in accounts, yet concealed £10m in debts from its investors and creditors.
SFO director Lisa Osofsky said the Patisserie collapse rocked high streets in the UK, leaving boarded-up shops and devastating job losses.
Charges against the defendants were “a step forward in getting to the bottom of this scandal,” Osofsky said.
The first Patisserie store opened in London’s Soho in 1926 and it underwent a massive expansion after leisure sector investor Luke Johnson acquired the business in 2006. It grew from eight shops in that year to 192 in May 2017.