Lenders Face Inquest Over Arena ‘Fraud’

More than 50 lenders are caught up in an alleged fraud at Arena Television, racking up fake assets of almost £300m of loans, administrators have revealed.

High street banks and specialist lenders face substantial losses as it has emerged that just nine of fifty-five lenders to Arena have any verified assets supporting their loans, according to an official filing by insolvency practitioners at Kroll. Administrators for the outside broadcast specialist, which collapsed in November, said that the Arena group had secured more than £290 million against supposed assets. However, the group “does not hold the vast majority of assets”, a filing shows.

Forty-six lenders, owed a combined £182 million, “do not have recourse to any assets” underlying their lending, administrators said, noting that there was a shortfall of “several thousand assets”. The Serious Fraud Office said that it could “neither confirm nor deny” suggestions that it was considering launching an investigation.

Among those facing the biggest losses are Shawbrook, owed £34.6 million, HSBC, owed £29.5 million, the NatWest-owned Lombard, owed £24.2 million, and ABN Amro, owed £22.6 million; while a number of non-bank and boutique lenders are also caught up in the alleged scam.

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