Former chairman of Patisserie Valerie is awaiting a big payday after Grant Thornton settled a £200million court case over the collapse of the coffee and cake chain.
Luke Johnson is believed to be one of the main creditors to benefit from a multi-million pound settlement of the case brought against the auditors of Patisserie Valerie.
Although the settlement is confidential, sources said the payment made up the bulk of Grant Thornton’s annual claims provision of £28million, which appeared in the auditor’s most recent accounts.
Liquidators sued Grant Thornton after the implosion of Valerie’s Patisserie in 2019 as a “direct result of significant fraud”, according to the company.
The Telegraph later revealed how the chain even removed the butter from its puff pastry in a bid to save money and cover up Patisserie Valerie’s dire financial situation.
Mr Johnson, a serial leisure entrepreneur who previously chaired Pizza Express and Channel 4, and was executive chairman of Patisserie Valerie, said he had been misled by other executive directors, who misrepresented finance of the company.
Shareholders had previously considered taking legal action against the board, including Mr Johnson.
Mr Johnson then took the unusual step of joining a committee of creditors alongside PR consultancy Maitland. He was owed more than £10million and was ranked among the company’s biggest creditors.
Patisserie Valerie’s liquidators, FRP Advisory, hired lawyers at Mishcon de Reya in 2021 to sue Grant Thornton for damages of around £200million. The accounting firm audited the company for 12 years and found no suspected manipulation.
At the time, Grant Thornton said he would “rigorously defend the claim”, adding: “Pâtisserie Valerie is a case which involves sustained and collusive fraud, including widespread deception of listeners. The claim ignores the company’s own failures. board of directors and management.
In September last year, Grant Thornton was fined £2.3million by the Financial Reporting Council for failings in audits between 2015 and 2017.
A criminal investigation into the business and accounting practices of people associated with parent company Patisserie Holdings is still ongoing by the Serious Fraud Office.
A Grant Thornton spokesperson said: “The PV Group and Grant Thornton confirm that in 2021 they have resolved the complaints brought against Grant Thornton by the PV Group. The terms are strictly confidential.
Mr Johnson declined to comment.