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FRC launches investigation into jailed Torex Retail directors

THE PROFESSION’S WATCHDOG has launched an investigation into the conduct of two jailed directors of IT business Torex Retail.

The FRC said it was investigating the conduct of two former members, Christopher Moore and Mark Woodbridge, who were former executives of Torex Retail plc.

However, their announcement comes after the criminal convictions announced by the Serious Fraud Office in June this year.

Torex’s accountant Woodbridge and former CEO Moore, alongside the former chairman Robert Loosemore were convicted of conspiring to defraud the former AIM-listed company’s shareholders between May and August 2006, by falsely inflating the cash/bank revenue figures of the company’s interim results by £6.5m.

Woodbridge was jailed for three years and ten months, Moore for 30 months and Loosemore for 20.

The trio created a false distribution agreement worth £5m between the company and Loosemore’s private company Magdalen Consulting, and a false goodwill deposit agreement worth £1.5m between the company and Loosemore.

All three were also found to have conspired between November 2006 and January 2007 to defraud shareholders by creating a false agreement between Torex and Magdalen which purported to vary the original false distribution agreement in order to sustain the original fraud.

Woodbridge was also found guilty of one count of false accounting between May and August 2006 by causing a further sum of £2m revenue to be falsely recognised in the company’s interim statement. He was acquitted of two other counts.

In 2011, Christopher Ford, finance director of Torex subsidiary XN Checkout, was convicted alongside fellow director Edwin Dayan of defrauding shareholders of Torex to the tune of £1.65m.

The pair caused false profits to be entered in the published 2005 year end accounts and the 2006 interim accounts, attributed to a fabricated agreement with pub chain outlet Mitchells & Butler.

Currently the FRC has said that it has launched an investigation, the next stage will be an announcement of whether disciplinary proceedings will begin and then a tribunal. This stage could take years, with recent FRC cases, such as MG Rover taking nearly ten years until completion of these stages.

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