Property services group distances itself from inquiry into former directors of firm it bought last year

Property services group Apollo has become entangled in a fraud investigation following criminal charges being brought against two former directors of its subsidiary FWA West.

Alan Boswell and Greg Causer, directors of FWA West when it was acquired by Apollo for £4.9m last May, will appear in court in February facing charges including conspiracy to defraud, theft, forgery and counterfeiting.

Apollo immediately moved to distance itself from the charges, with its management saying they were not made aware that the directors were subject to a criminal investigation when it bought the Midlands-based responsive and planned maintenance company.

Chief executive Dave Sheridan said: “We acquired FWA West Ltd in May 2010 and were only made aware of this situation towards the end of 2010, following formal charges being made against these former FWA directors. Since it is in connection with individuals who do not work for Apollo, and circumstances that relate back to 2007 and 2008, it has no impact on our current operations.”

Further details regarding the charges are expected to be revealed at the plea case management hearing at Southwark Crown Court on 1 February, when the two will enter their plea.

In its most recent set of accounts, covering the period between 31 August 2007 and 28 February 2009, FWA had a turnover of £9m and pre-tax profit of £1.7m. According to the Companies House website, FWA’s 2010 accounts, which were due to be lodged by 30 November, are overdue.

It is unclear what prompted the investigation into Boswell and Causer, but if convicted, it could prove an embarrassing incident for Apollo and its shareholders, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group and private equity firm Coller Capital.

Adding to the pressure on Apollo are persistent rumours that its owners have tasked consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers with finding a buyer willing to take it off their hands, although a source close to Apollo said this was not the case.

Apollo’s accounts for the financial year to 31 March 2010 show turnover of £299m and a pre-tax loss of £7.9m. It has a debt pile of £108m and an annual interest bill of £15.5m.