UK: Cash "siphoned off" from Unwins stores

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KPMG, the administrators for collapsed UK wine retailer Unwins, has claimed that money was siphoned off from the company and placed in separate bank accounts.

A spokesman for KPMG told just-drinks today (26 July) that it had proof money was banked from Unwins stores into non-company accounts.

"We have seen evidence where money was siphoned off to other accounts," he said, refusing to be drawn on the sums of money involved.

The spokesman added that KPMG was mulling legal action against Unwins' previous owner, DM Private Equity, on "various allegations" connected with the failed high-street chain.

He said: "We've got a committee of creditors on Unwins and we are meeting that committee to discuss the next steps we can take on the various allegations."

Unwins is said to owe over GBP30m (US$55m) to around 1,000 creditors, including staff who are owed hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The company went into administration last December amid falling sales and mounting debts. Unwins, a 168-year-old business, had been a family-owned concern up until March when it was acquired by DM Private Equity for GBP32m. The new owner's plan was to use the sale of the company's freeholds to wipe out debt and restructure the business.

Rival retailer Thresher then moved swiftly to capitalise on the collapse of Unwins by buying 200 outlets.

Officials at DM could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.

Sectors: Wine

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