Torex Group financial accountant jailed for false accounting

THE FORMER group financial accountant of Torex Retail has been jailed for three years and ten months for his part in a false accounting scandal at the software company between 2006 and 2007.

Mark Woodbridge, 42, was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court after he was found of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of false accounting. Woodbridge was also disqualified from acting as a company director for three years and ordered to pay costs of £170,000 within 12 months.

Two other company directors – former chief executive Christopher Moore and former executive chairman Robert Loosemore – pleaded guilty before the trial. They were sentenced in January to 30 months and 20 months in prison, respectively.

The trio 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.

To justify these entries the defendants 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 further false agreement between Torex and Magdalen which purported to vary the original false distribution agreement in order to sustain the original fraud.

Nigel Horn, Torex’s former legal director, who was tried alongside Woodbridge, was acquitted of the offence, the only one he faced.

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.

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