Former Patisserie Valerie CFO charged with fraud

By Finn Scott-Delany

- Last updated on GMT

Former Patisserie Valerie CFO charged with fraud

Related tags Patisserie valerie Fraud Casual dining Multi-site bakery

The former chief financial officer of Patisserie Valerie has been charged with fraud along with three others in connection with their role in the collapse of the chain in 2018.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has brought fraud charges against former CFO Christopher Marsh and his wife, accountant Louise Marsh, as well as financial controller Pritesh Mistry and financial consultant Nileshkumar Lad.

The four suspects oversaw the financial failure of the chain, which at its peak had almost 200 high street locations.

The SFO opened an investigation into the conduct, codenamed ‘Operation Venom’, in October 2018​ ​after Patisserie Holdings, which used to own the Patisserie Valerie brand, discovered a multi-million pound black hole in its account​ that was eventually valued at £94m​.

The company subsequently entered into administration​, leading to the closure of 70 stores and about 900 job losses​.

In 2021, Patisserie Valerie's former auditor Grant Thornton was fined £2.3m and accused of a 'serious lack of competence' over its role in the accounting scandal​.

The SFO has 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 this time, the company also reported holding £28m in accounts, yet concealed £10m in debts from its investors and creditors.

The defendants are summoned to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 10 October 2023 to hear the charges against them.

Lisa Osofsky, director of the SFO, said: “Patisserie Valerie’s abrupt collapse rocked our high streets – leaving boarded-up shops, devastating job losses and significant investor losses in its wake. Today is a step forward in getting to the bottom of this scandal.”

Patisserie Valerie is now owned by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital Partners, which acquired the group out of administration​ through a management buyout.

Causeway Capital Partners continues to operate a couple of dozen Patisserie Valerie cafés across the UK.

Late last month, The Sun ​revealed that Patisserie Valerie was preparing to reopen a number of sites​ as part of a reinvestment into its estate, as well as actively looking for opportunities to open new locations.

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