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Jury told men 'conspired to inflate firm's value'
TWO men were involved in a conspiracy to inflate a company’s value by almost £8.5m, a jury heard.
Nigel Horn, 58, and 42-year-old Mark Woodbridge both deny conspiracy to defraud the shareholders of the software firm Torex Retail.
The holding company and its subsidiaries employed around 3,000 people and had offices in Banbury and Witney, as well as in Europe.
Woodbridge, of Mill Farm, Brookhampton, Kineton, Warwickshire, is accused of two counts of conspiracy to defraud between May 1, 2006, and January 26, 2007.
They involve about £8.5m which the prosecution alleges was dishonestly entered in one of the company’s interim financial statements to inflate its value.
Woodbridge was group financial accountant for Torex Retail and also stands accused of three counts of false accounting in 2006, between May 1 and August 15.
Horn, of Bourton-on-the-Water, was the firm’s legal director and is charged with conspiracy to defraud between November 1, 2006, and January 26, 2007.
The trial, which follows a long investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, is expected to last up to 12 weeks. Yesterday the jury heard the company’s former chairman Robert Loosemore and chief executive Christopher Moore both admitted two counts of conspiracy to defraud in January.
Gibson Grenfell, prosecuting, said their guilty pleas were proof that a conspiracy existed at Torex Retail, but not that Woodbridge and Horn were involved.
He said: “To put it simply, much of this case is about cooking company books to make it look as if the company concerned is making more profit than it in fact is and has more cash than it in fact has.
“When company books are cooked, the inevitable result is that a false financial position is shown in company accounts and to the public. That is indeed what happened in this case.
“Where false figures and a false financial position is shown, not only is there false accounting, but there is also a risk that the rights of shareholders of that company will be prejudiced.
“Why? Because shareholders have a right to have the true picture of a company and to have the true financial facts about it.
“The word shareholders doesn’t just mean big investors – shares of all companies are held by ordinary men and women.
“Either directly or perhaps via their pension funds.
“Torex’s shares were no exception.”
Torex Retail made software for retail businesses, such as touch screen cashtills, and worked with large firms such as McDonalds.
Mr Grenfell is expected to continue opening the case today and tomorrow.
The trial continues and Woodbridge and Horn were released on bail.