Hinchliffe attacks KPMG's 'pounds 1m fees'

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The Independent Online
Stephen Hinchliffe, boss of the collapsed Facia retail empire, this weekend accused accountants KPMG of charging exorbitant fees for handling the receivership of the group.

With pressure mounting on him from the examination of Facia's affairs, Mr Hinchliffe claimed KPMG was set to charge fees of pounds 1m for the the first few days of the receivership alone.

Again branding pursuit of him as a "witch hunt", Mr Hinchliffe said: "Why don't people look at the fees as we speak. Why don't you look at how much they charge now and how much they will charge."

Nobody at KPMG, which sold most of the remaining Facia shops last week, was available to substantiate his claims.

Mr Hinchliffe's outburst, however, comes as receivers start to probe for possible evidence of insolvent trading by Facia. They are also understood to be preparing the ground for the possible recovery of assets from Mr Hinchliffe's private companies, which had substantial inter-company accounts with Facia. The Sheffield businessman declined to disclose their extent but insisted they were all "of a commercial nature".

Facia, which owned chains from Sock Shop to fashion chain Red or Dead, collapsed three weeks ago with debts of pounds 30m.

Last week, KPMG sold most of the Oakland menswear chain, leaving just the small Torq jewellry chain in receivership. Mr Hincliffe's shoe-shop chains, including Saxone and Freeman Hardy Willis are separately under administration by accountants Price Waterhouse.

Facia's bankers - Israel's United Mizrahi Bank, Bank of Scotland and Midland, which are owed pounds 8m in total - will be repaid in full, but the size of payout to other unsecured creditors is still uncertain.

These include Mr Hinchliffe: "I'll be claiming alongside all unsecured creditors," he insisted.

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