Ex-Bridge insolvency partner and accountant sent to prison

by Rachael Singh

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28 Feb 2014

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AN EX-INSOLVENCY PARTNER and former accountant to Bridge Business Recovery have both received prison terms at Maidstone Crown Court.

A court administrator confirmed that both James Bradney and Michael Worrall, who both pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this week, were sentenced to 42 months and 32 months in prison respectively this afternoon.

Bradney is a co-founding partner at insolvency firm Bridge, which collapsed following the discovery of "accounting discrepancies" in July 2011. The firm's external accountant Worrall, and Bradney, were both charged last year on several counts of fraud, following an investigation by the Serious Crime Unit.

As well as jail time, Bradney and Worrall have been disqualified from acting as directors. Bradney has been disqualified for seven years, and Worrall for five years.

Bradney had his ICAEW licence revoked with immediate effect just months after the accounting discrepancy was found at Bridge Business Recovery and it collapsed, in 2011. At the time the ICAEW said it believes Bradney's capability to continue to function as a licence holder was "prejudicial to the public interest". Bradney also filed for bankruptcy in July last year.

KPMG administrators Samantha Bewick and Colin Haig were appointed joint-administrators to Bridge Business Recovery.

According to the creditors report from KPMG in August 2011, unsecured creditors were owed more than £4m including £1.3m to HMRC. It is estimated that this group of creditors would receive just 20p for every £1 owed. However, the wage bill of £8,272.83 was likely to be paid in full.

The administrators claimed that significant irregularities at Bridge led to its collapse. In a statement at the time they said: "The partners of the business sought the advice of KPMG on discovery of significant irregularities, which subsequently led to the court appointing KPMG as administrators."
Bewick and David Standish, a KPMG insolvency practitioner, took over as liquidators of Bridge in 2012.

Former Bridge partner Tony Murphy joined Harrisons, which bought Bridge's London office. Cases where James Bradney was the lead practitioner were sold to insolvency firm Griffins.

Meanwhile Andrew Duncan, Matt Evans, Alex Cadwallader and Rob Horton initially joined Leonard Curtis following the collapse. However, since then, Rob Horton has left to join boutique London firm Auria Recovery.

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