Former Patisserie Valerie finance chief and wife among four charged with fraud over bakery chain’s collapse
A married couple who allegedly oversaw the collapse of Patisserie Valerie after a £94million hole in its accounts was discovered has appeared in court accused of fraud.
Chief financial officer Christopher Marsh, 49, and his wife Louise, 55, are accused of “inflating” figures in the bakery chain’s annual accounts for three years, starting in October 2015.
Patisserie Valerie is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) with 200 stores across Britain and employs 3,000 people. But in 2019 the company collapsed and cost 900 people their jobs.
Prosecutors allege Christopher Marsh, along with financial consultant Nileshkumar Lad, 50, and financial controller Pritesh Mistry, 41, lied to HSBC and Barclays about having “cash reserves”.
Fraud charges: Former Patisserie Valerie finance director Christopher Marsh (pictured) and his wife Louise are accused of “inflating” figures in the bakery chain’s annual accounts.
The three are also alleged to have submitted false invoices to accounting firm Grant Thornton, which was acting as the company’s auditors at the time.
His first court appearance follows a five-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office that began in 2018, shortly before the chain went into administration.
The four are charged with conspiracy to defraud shareholders and banks “by dishonestly agreeing to misrepresent and inflate figures.”
Christopher Marsh, Lad and Mistry also each face five counts of fraud by false representation and one of making or supplying an article for use in fraud.
Marsh is charged with an additional count of publishing false statements while he was a director of Patisserie Valerie.
Yesterday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the four defendants spoke only to confirm their name, age and address.
District Judge Daniel Sternberg told them to be ready to give their pleas on November 7 at Southwark Crown Court.
Keir Monteith KC, representing Christopher Marsh, said: “My client is of exemplary character.”
Louise Marsh is represented by Mark Heyward KC, who defends and prosecutes high-profile cases.