Fraudster Woodbridge banned from profession for 10 years

CONVICTED FRAUDSTER Mark Woodbridge, the former group financial accountant of Torex Retail, has been banned from the accounting profession for a decade.

The punishment was meted out to Woodbridge, who was jailed for three years and ten months for his part in an accounting fraud at the company, following a disciplinary hearing led by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

The tribunal found that Woodbridge’s conduct “fell significantly short of the standards reasonably to be expected of a member and brought discredit to him and to the accountancy profession, in that he has been convicted by Oxford Crown Court of the criminal offences of false accounting and conspiracy to defraud”.

The convictions relate to the interim financial statement for Torex Retail plc, of which Woodbridge was the group financial accountant for the period ended 30 June 2006.

In 2013, Woodbridge was convicted alongside Christopher Moore, a former CEO at Torex, and former chairman Robert Loosemore 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.

Moore was jailed for 30 months and Loosemore for 20.

The trio 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 false agreement between Torex and Magdalen which purported to vary the original false distribution agreement in order to sustain the original fraud.

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 December 2013, the FRC launched an investigation into the conduct of Moore and Woodbridge under its accountancy scheme. But in July 2014, it dropped its seven month probe into Moore because of ‘insufficient evidence of misconduct’ during the period in which Moore was a member of the ACCA.

The hearing took place at The International Dispute Resolution Centre, in Fleet Street, London.

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