Five people have been arrested and questioned as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged accounting fraud at Patisserie Valerie.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed the arrests took place on 18th June in a joint operation between Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Metropolitan police services. The SFO did not provide details of names or specific areas of questioning, but it stated that its inquiries were focused on the debilitating financial anomalies which crippled Patisserie Valerie.
Multi-million pound discrepancies were found in the company accounts late last year. Patisserie Valerie entered administration in January this year, resulting in the loss of 900 jobs and the closure of 70 stores and concessions.
Patisserie Valerie’s former chairman and a columnist for The Sunday Times, Luke Johnson, was not among those arrested. Johnson recently broke his silence about the investigation in a column for The Sunday Times, stating that the affair had made him physically ill and brought great stress to his family.
Luke Johnson previously attempted to save the company by lending £10m of his own funds, but ultimately the hole in Patisserie Valerie’s accounts worth £94m proved impossible to patch.
Johnson claims to have been misled about the financial health of the company, and has questioned the reports provided by auditors Grant Thornton.
Chris Marsh, the firm’s finance director, was arrested and bailed when the scandal came to light.
Patisserie Valerie was bought out of administration in February for £5m, by Dublin-based private equity firm, Causeway Capital Partners (CCP). The new owners saved approximately 2,000 jobs and were able to keep 96 outlets running.