On Wednesday 23 February, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), in conjunction with the National Crime Agency (NCA), conducted a ‘dawn raid’ culminating in two arrests and searches of three properties as part of its criminal investigation into the collapsed broadcaster, Arena Television Limited (Arena). The investigation centres on questions raised by administrators regarding the validity of assets against which Arena borrowed around £280 million from more than 50 lenders.

Arena collapsed in November last year after questions were raised during an asset verification exercise in which one of Arena’s lenders tried to verify a serial number with the equipment manufacturer and was advised no such serial number existed. The company’s founder, Richard Yeowart, abruptly announced that the company had ceased trading after this and following applications from creditors, administrators were  appointed.

The arrests and searches on 23 February follow criticisms of the SFO for not having conducted any dawn raids during the period, despite a widespread increase in fraud.

See here for our 2022 horizon scan on financial crime enforcement trends.