PracticeAccounting FirmsEx-Facia execs plead guilty to fraud charges

Ex-Facia execs plead guilty to fraud charges

Two former executives of retail group Facia have pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud in advance of a trial, following an investigation dating back to the collapse of the company in 1996.

Link: Special report: Fraud and how to stop it

Stephen Leonard Hinchliffe, the former chief executive at Facia, pled guilty to fraud charges and admitted to personally benefiting by £1.75m, while Christopher Thomas Harrison, the former company secretary and co-director pled guilty to fraud charges, but made no personal benefit from the fraud.

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.

Sentencing of the two has been put off until the 23 April 2003.

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