The joint administrators who handled bankrupt British couture house Ralph & Russo’s recent sale to US investment firm Retail Ecommerce Ventures are suing co-founder Tamara Ralph for £20.8 million ($28.8 million), The Times reports.
The suit, filed in England’s High Court by Begbies Traynor Group and Quantuma Advisory, accuses Ralph and co-founder Michael Russo of “[extracting] substantial sums” for personal use on flights, hotel stays and Ralph’s pet, after the brand raised around £60 million from investors between 2018 and 2020, according to The Times report. Russo is not named as a defendant in the suit, the report said.
”The diversion of employee pension and tax contributions to fund the lavish lifestyle of Tamara Ralph is both morally and legally wrong,” said a spokesperson for Candy Ventures, Ralph & Russo’s largest secured creditor. “The legal authorities must intervene and bring justice to the 150 employees who have lost their jobs and pensions as a result of serial wrongdoing at the company.”
Ralph denied wrongdoing in a statement, calling the allegations “misconceived and demonstrably false.” She characterised the claims as part of a “concerted campaign to bully, silence and coerce me,” adding she would defeat them through legal channels if they were not withdrawn.
”We have a statutory duty to investigate the affairs of the Company, the conduct of the directors and any shadow directors and, in particular, in relation to the £60 million invested into the company and spent by the founder directors at the expense of the pension regulator, HMRC, secured, preferential and unsecured creditors. We are continuing our enquiries in that regard,” a spokesperson for the administrators said in a statement.
Editor’s Note: This article was revised on 5 July 2021 to include additional comment from Tamara Ralph.