SFO raids homes in Torex fraud probe
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The Serious Fraud Office’s inquiry into Torex Retail, the software group, widened after it raided two homes and a set of business premises in Oxfordshire early on Wednesday.
It also emerged on Wednesday that Chris Moore, former chief executive and chairman of Torex, had resigned from the board.
Torex Retail came under investigation by the SFO, the Financial Services Authority, the City watchdog, and the London Stock Exchange in January after issuing a huge profits warning eight days after announcing that it had won new contracts.
The inquiry was prompted after Neil Mitchell, then the group’s chief executive, passed a dossier to the SFO alleging fraud at the group. Mr Mitchell was subsequently suspended, but remains on the board.
On Wednesday the SFO, in conjunction with the City of London police, swooped on a further two residential addresses in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, in the course of its investigations, it said in a statement.
It added that it had also raided business premises in Banbury, in Oxfordshire.
The SFO said no arrests had been made. Although Torex Retail has premises in the Oxfordshire town, it said in a statement that the business premises raided were not those of Torex Retail or any other member of Torex Retail group.
Mr Moore stepped down from his role as temporary chairman in late January as the investigation into Torex Retail began.
In December, he stepped down as chairman to become a full-time consultant at £70,000 per month to manage top-level client relationships on major global accounts such as McDonald’s. Mr Moore declined to comment on Wednesday’s events.
He has been associated with Torex plc since he became chief executive in 1995 and shaped the company into a software business before it merged with Isoft, the healthcare software group, in 2003. Torex Retail was formed when it was bought out of Isoft in 2004.
Wednesday’s searches come six weeks after the SFO raided houses belonging to Mr Moore, Mark Woodbridge, a close associate of Mr Moore, and Rob Loosemore, Torex’s former chairman.
Shares in the company have been suspended at 41p per share since late January when Torex Retail put out its huge profit warning.
Early indications from auditors working on its accounts suggest the struggling retail software group’s full-year operating figures may be half of analysts’ expectations of £53m.
An initial report, prepared by Deloitte on behalf of Torex, has been prepared of the likely full-year figures.