Ken Murray freezes Caplay bank cash

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SHARES IN Caplay, the troubled leisure and finance company, were unexpectedly suspended yesterday after its former chief executive, the flamboyant entrepreneur Ken Murray, obtained a court order freezing several of its bank accounts.

Caplay, which was formed under the name Murray Financial in 1998, has been in dispute with its founder and former CEO for the past two years, over a sum of about pounds 750,000 which he claims to have been owed under the terms of his contract.

Mr Murray lost his initial claim in the courts last summer, but he is still pursuing the company through the appeal courts. However, even if successful, he has now been limited to claiming a maximum benefit of one year's salary and benefits. He now looks set to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in total, even if he wins the appeal.

Caplay was yesterday unable to explain how Mr Murray had managed to freeze some of its bank accounts. In a statement, it said: "Our legal advisers are taking steps to have the order removed and we believe this matter will be resolved in the near future. Nevertheless, we believe it prudent to seek a suspension of the group's shares while this matter is resolved. We expect any suspension to be temporary."

Caplay has had a difficult year, due to its lengthy dispute with Mr Murray. Announcing its full financial year results in November, it said losses had widened as a result of its ongoing litigation.

The group's shares were given a boost last summer when Terry Ramsden, the legendary financier, gambler, racehorse owner and convicted fraudster, built up a stake in the company. However, last summer's trial and the decision of another major shareholder to sell out have seen its shares fall below 3p. They were suspended yesterday at 2.88p, giving the company a market value of pounds 5.2m.