Patisserie Valerie: Four charged with fraud over abrupt collapse of high street cafe and cake chain in 2019

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“Today is a step forward in getting to the bottom of this scandal.”

Four people have been charged with fraud over the collapse of British cafe and cake chain Patisserie Valerie, including its former director. The firm, which operated hundreds of high street cafes across the UK, collapsed in 2019 after a multimillion-pound black hole in its finances was blamed on “potentially fraudulent” accounting irregularities.

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has now charged four people in connection with the conduct, including the chain’s former director and chief financial officer, Christopher Marsh. His wife, the accountant Louise Marsh, has also been charged, along with financial controller Pritesh Mistry and financial consultant Nileshkumar Lad.

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All four suspects named today (Wednesday, September 13) have been charged with conspiring to inflate the cash in the balance sheets and annual reports of the chain’s owner Patisserie Holdings between 2015 and 2018. The SFO said this included providing false documentation to the company’s auditors.

It is understood that all four suspects were served with the charges at their homes and have been summoned to appear at Westminster magistrates court on October 10.

Lisa Osofsky, the SFO director, 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.”

A pedestrian walks past a branch of a Patisserie Valerie cafe in London on January 23, 2019.A pedestrian walks past a branch of a Patisserie Valerie cafe in London on January 23, 2019.
A pedestrian walks past a branch of a Patisserie Valerie cafe in London on January 23, 2019. | AFP via Getty Images

Patisserie Valerie traded for 92 years after being founded by Madame Valerie, a Belgian woman, in the 1920s. The company stopped trading in October 2018 after allegedly discovering financial irregularities, which led to the abrupt closure of 70 stores, followed by the loss of 900 jobs.

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The firm was forced to call in administrators in 2019 and was saved from closure that year by a management buyout backed by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital Partners. It still operates a few dozen cafes across the UK while its cakes are available at some supermarkets.

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