Insolvency partner and accountant both plead guilty to fraud

Insolvency partner and accountant both plead guilty to fraud

Ex-Bridge Business Recovery partner James Bradney and the firm’s former accountant Michael Worrall plead guilty to charges of fraud

AN EX-INSOLVENCY PARTNER and a former accountant to Bridge Business Recovery have both pleaded guilty to fraud at the Crown Court.

A Kent Police spokesman confirmed that both James Bradney and Michael Worrall have pleaded guilty to a charge of fraud.

James Bradney is a co-founding partner at insolvency firm Bridge which collapsed following the discovery of “accounting discrepancies” in July 2011. The firm’s external accountant Michael Worrall, and Bradney, were both charged last year on several counts of fraud, following an investigation by the Serious Crime Unit.

Initially both Bradney and Worrall were 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. Bradney was also charged with a further two counts of false accounting, understood to relate to alleged falsified estate deposit accounts.

However, Accountancy Age understands that each individual had their charges condensed into one charge of fraud each, with both pleading guilty to a charge at court on Monday.

It is also understood that sentencing is likely to take place on Friday.

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.” 

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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