THE owner of Patisserie Valerie has said its finance director Chris Marsh was arrested last night and then released on bail reports the BBC.
The cafe chain is fighting for survival after revealing on Wednesday it had uncovered “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities”.
There is a branch of Patisserie Valeri at intu Lakeside.
Mr Marsh had been suspended when these problems were discovered.
Later on Friday the Serious Fraud Office said it had “opened a criminal investigation into an individual”.
“We can give no further information or comment at this time,” the SFO said without naming the individual.
On Thursday, Patisserie Holdings – the owner of the cafe chain – said it needed “an immediate injection of capital” to continue trading in its current form.
In a brief announcement to the stock market on Friday, the firm said: “The company has been made aware that Chris Marsh, who is currently suspended from his role as company finance director, was arrested by the police last night and has been released on bail. Further updates will be released in due course as appropriate”.
Hertfordshire Police said: “A 44-year old man from St Albans has been arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. He has been released under investigation.”
Patisserie Holdings is 37%-owned by entrepreneur Luke Johnson. Since Thursday’s statement it has not provided any more detail on its attempts to raise funds.
Patisserie Valerie’s stores are continuing to operate, and the BBC understands that talks are currently taking place in an attempt to save the business.
It is also understood that Mr Johnson is not in a position to personally provide the cash needed immediately.
A further update is expected later on Friday or on Saturday.