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Bridge Business Recovery founder charged with fraud

EX-BRIDGE BUSINESS RECOVERY partner James Bradney has been charged over an alleged fraud that took place at the insolvency firm. 

He was one of the founding partners of Bridge Business Recovery, which collapsed following the discovery of “accounting discrepancies” in July 2011.

Bradney and Michael Worrall, understood to be the firm’s external accountant, are both facing summons following an investigation by the Serious Crime Unit.

Both Bradney and Worrall have been charged with five counts of conspiracy to commit fraud by abuse of a position of trust and one count of conspiracy to commit false accounting, understood to be in relation to the preparation of false management accounts.

However, Bradney has also been charged with a further two counts of false accounting, understood to relate to alleged falsified estate deposit accounts.

Kent Police raised the court summons, which was issued on 12 September, with both men due to appear at Sevenoaks Magistrates Court on 4 October. 

Summons are effectively charges and conspiracy charges can only be heard at Crown Court. Bradney and Worrall can enter their pleas at the magistrates, which will refer the case to Crown with a trial date due to be set shortly after that. 

KPMG administrators Samantha Bewick and Colin Haig were appointed joint-administrators to Bridge Business Recovery following the discovery of accounting irregularities in July 2011.

Bradney had his ICAEW licence revoked with immediate effect “by urgent order” in July 2011 following the allegations of fraud at Bridge. 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.

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.”

It was later revealed that the remaining partners tried to buy the business through a pre-pack administration and had the backing of HMRC, the largest creditor, and the regulator ICAEW. However, the judge declined the approval of this method because he felt the firm needed to be marketed before a sale could be agreed.

The administrators had argued that the cost of marketing of the firm and the potential damage to the brand would negate the benefits of the pre-pack.

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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