BusinessCompany NewsKey Mayflower witness ‘in South America’

Key Mayflower witness 'in South America'

Accountancy Age learns key witness in the investigation of collapsed bus manufacturer Mayflower may have moved to South America

Investigators have been unable to speak to a key witness in the investigation
of collapsed bus manufacturer Mayflower because they think he has moved to South
America.

Grant Thornton, hired to investigate the demise of the company amidst
suggestions of a £20m black hole, say in tribunal papers seen by
Accountancy Age that they have been unable to contact David Berry, the
former financial director of Transbus, a Mayflower subsidiary.

Although Berry had been available for preliminary interviews with
investigators from the Companies Investigation Branch of the Department of Trade
and Industry, the forensic team from the firm, hired by HSBC, could not reach
him. ‘We are unable to interview Mr Berry who, we were told, had moved to South
America,’ investigators said.

It is also understood that figures close to the case do not currently know
where Berry is. His evidence is key, since Ian Shelton, the former financial
controller, says that Berry, his boss, forced him to delay payments to the bank
in order to prop up its ailing cashflow. An AIDB tribunal heard last week how
Berry resigned with a £100,000 payout five months before the company went into
administration.

Professionals accused over the collapse face charges relating to the alleged
withholding of payments from HSBC, abusing their invoice discounting facility.

Mayflower FD David Donnelly and PricewaterhouseCoopers face complaints in
relation to the alleged abuse of the facility.

Berry’s role, if any, in complaints against PwC is unknown.

Employees at Mayflower are alleged to have fiddled with spreadsheets to dupe
the bank, which then believed monies arrived late because customers had paid
late.
In his meeting with investigators from the department of trade and industry,
Berry denied any knowledge of the alleged malpractice.

But amidst charges of dishonesty, Shelton laid the blame on Berry, accusing
him of threatening to fire him unless he met cash-flow targets, and ordering him
to withhold cash.

There is currently no suggestion of any proceedings against Berry.

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