The administrators of Arena Television, the outside broadcaster that collapsed owing £280m last November, will sue two men linked to the company, meanwhile, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is believed to be in contact with the French authorities about the whereabouts of one of Arena’s absconded directors, according to a report in The Times last week.
The newspaper reported that administrator Kroll has issued a lawsuit at the High Court against Paul Froom, of Sentinel Broadcast, a supplier to Arena Television, and Nicholas Cousins, thought to have held a senior finance role at Arena.
According to the report, Kroll accuses Froom and Cousins of providing “dishonest assistance” to Richard Yeowart and Robert Hopkinson, the television company’s directors, both of whom have not been seen in the UK since Arena Television stopped trading.
In a separate development, The Times also reported that Hopkinson has been found in France by the local police. Yeowart’s whereabouts remain unknown.
The claim against Froom and Cousins shows the former is being pursued over £1.1 million of invoices paid to Sentinel, a sum said to have been “misapplied and/or misappropriated” by Arena’s directors. Cousins received £210,000 in “corrupt gifts” for his role in the scam, administrators claim.
Arena Television’s collapse came to light last November when Hickman Shearer, working on behalf of one of the broadcaster’s creditors, failed to locate ‘leased’ equipment during an asset verification inspection at Arena’s offices.
A subsequent investigation found that Arena Television (and its parent Arena Holdings) had racked up almost £300m in loans from 55 lenders secured against thousands of items of broadcasting equipment that simply did not exist, amounting to the biggest asset finance fraud in UK history, according to The Times.
The company was incorporated in 1988 and worked on sports events including the European football championship for ITV Sport and the Glastonbury Festival for the BBC.