Wilde Sapte and Dentons pick up Versailles insolvency case

Wilde Sapte and Denton Hall have won their second major insolvency case as a combined outfit in as many weeks.

The firms, which will merge on 1 February to form Denton Wilde Sapte, have been instructed by receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers to advise on the multimillion pound insolvency of Versailles amid allegations of fraud.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating the trade finance house for possible “serious and complex fraud” after a DTI enquiry last year.

PwC says there appears to be “complex, extensive and long-running fraud inside the company of a very material nature”.

Wilde Sapte was initially appointed during the DTI enquiry by NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, which lent the company nearly £65m.

But receiver PwC has since appointed Wilde Sapte, which is regarded as having a leading practice, to handle the insolvency.

Earlier this month Arthur Andersen appointed the firms to work on the receivership of engineering group TransTec, one of the largest collapses in recent years (The Lawyer, 10 January).

It was the firms first major joint venture since they announced their merger in October.

As with TransTec, the team working on the Versailles case includes lawyers from Denton Hall. It is led by Wilde Sapte insolvency and banking partner Graham Paine.

Senior assistant Chris Howard says the SFO investigation could relate to the sale by chief executive Carl Cushnie of £30m worth of shares just before the DTI enquiry was announced.

Ashurst Morris Crisp is representing chief executive and chairman Carl Cushnie. Insolvency partner Nick Angel was originally leading the team, although senior corporate solicitor Jane Hanna is now heading it.

Ashursts declines to comment further.