PracticeAccounting FirmsEx-Facia execs get suspended sentences

Ex-Facia execs get suspended sentences

The former chief executive and company secretary of collapsed retail group Facia have both escaped jail time after sentence was passed yesterday.

Link: Ex-Facia execs plead guilty to fraud charges

Stephen Hinchliffe, former chief executive, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, while Christopher Harrison, former company secretary and co-director, was handed a six-month sentence, suspended for two years.

On 2 April Hinchliffe pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud, admitting to personally benefiting by £1.75m, at the Central Criminal Court. Harrision, did not benefit personally, but pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud.

They were both charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud, twelve counts of false accounting and eight counts of theft.

The remaining charges will remain on the file.

A Serious Fraud Office and South Yorkshire police investigation, which commenced in August 1996, uncovered an elaborate operation which saw Facia, under Hinchliffe’s orders, acquire a number of high street retail businesses including Sock Shop, Contessa and Read or Dead and strip these companies of their assets for his benefit.

Harrison was co-director of a number of these companies under the Facia umbrella.

Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), who were administrators of Facia-owned footwear outlets Truform, Manfield and Freeman, Hardy & Willis reported £15m missing from Facia accounts.

Receivers KPMG discovered suspicious loans and movement of assets for which there were no logical justification or proper accounting records.

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