Phones 4u co-founder set to face off against former business partner in court tomorrow, but defendant claims she was bullied into signing a false statement

 
Hayley Kirton
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At The Old Bailey Today
It is alleged that Dauriac-Stoebe claimed thousands in false expenses (Source: Getty)

A co-founder of Phones 4u will be heading to court tomorrow over a business deal turned incredibly sour.

Signia Wealth, a wealth management business ultimately owned by Phones 4u's John Caudwell, is suing Nathalie Dauriac-Stoebe, alleging that she fraudulently claimed around £33,000 in expenses over a three-year period while working for the company, including claims for beauty treatments, personal shopping trips and family holidays.

However, Dauriac-Stoebe, who was chief executive of Signia Wealth as well as a 49 per cent shareholder via a trust, denies the accusations. She is arguing that all bar £132 of her expenses were made appropriately, and those not made accurately were an honest mistake on behalf of her receptionist.

Dauriac-Stoebe also alleges that Caudwell effectively bullied her into signing a statement to say she had breached her service agreement to make her a "bad leaver" and thereby force her to give up her beneficial shareholding the company.

Dauriac-Stoebe believes she is being victimised for raising concerns that Caudwell had booked £1.7m in management fees, which attract VAT, through the accounts as introducers fees, which do not attract VAT.

According to court documents prepared on behalf of Dauriac-Stoebe, Caudwell has since said that the invoices were not in respect of introducers fees and were simply a method to inject capital into the company. But court documents for Signia suggest that Dauriac-Stoebe herself had a hand in designing the tax scheme.

The case is due to be heard at London's High Court.

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