Crisis-hit Patisserie Valerie finance chief arrested by police

Birmingham-based cake shop chain Patisserie Valerie remains on a knife edge today

This morning the company announced that suspended financial officer Chris Marsh was arrested last night.

The finance boss of Patisserie Valerie has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

The company also successfully raised more than £15 million through the issue of new shares.

It said: "The company has been made aware that Chris Marsh, who is now suspended from his role as company finance director, was arrested by the police last night and has been released on bail".

Patisserie Holdings said Mr Johnson was also close to agreeing a three-year loan facility of an additional £10m to provide it with the minimum £20m needed immediately to continue trading for the foreseeable future.

The developments come after the Serious Fraud Office stated it had "opened a criminal investigation into an individual" on Friday, without mentioning names.

The company, with professional advisers from accountants PwC, spent 24 hours investigating the financial status of the company.

Earlier this week, the firm's finance chief, Chris Marsh, was suspended from the group after the bakery chain uncovered "significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities".

Hertfordshire Police confirmed that a 44-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation and released under investigation yesterday evening.

Facing an immediate need for new cash, "the directors and the company's professional advisers are assessing all options available to the business to keep it trading and will update the market in due course".

It said that while the findings were preliminary and subject to change it now believed the group had net debt of approximately £9.8m.

It is understood that the company has failed to pay rents.

Mr Marsh was suspended from his role while the circumstances of the financial black hole were examined internally.

But then it discovered it had received a winding up petition for its principal trading unit, Stonebeach, relating to £1.14m owed to the taxman, with a hearing set for October 31.

Patisserie Valerie trades from more than 200 stores and also has a partnership with Sainsbury's, with branded counters present in the supermarket.

Landlords for at least two Patisserie Valerie locations in London - in Hammersmith and Edgeware Road - have cancelled their lease agreements with the company over breach of contract.

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