John Caudwell always travelled as cheaply as possible, one of the businessman’s staff told Mr Justice Marcus Smith at a High Court hearing
The billionaire founder of Phones4u who accuses the French finance expert he considered his best friend of fiddling her expenses ‘felt bereaved’ when he found out, a court heard.
John Caudwell is embroiled in a High Court money fight with Nathalie Dauriac, 39, who left a management job after being accused of wrongly claiming expenses to pay for gifts and a trip to Malaga.
Ms Dauriac insists her former business partner ‘orchestrated’ an ‘elaborate conspiracy’ against her after they set up a wealth management company in 2009.
She says Mr Caudwell, 65, launched an ‘unfair’ expenses investigation when she was chief executive at Signia Wealth Management.
Ms Dauriac, who has complained of constructive dismissal and not getting what she was due, says she lost shares worth more than £10 million and wants compensation.
Signia bosses say Ms Dauriac wrongfully claimed around £30,000 expenses and was guilty of gross misconduct.
All sides dispute allegations made against them.
On Friday in London, Mr Caudwell told Mr Justice Marcus Smith that he suffered from Lyme disease, which affected his memory, and his business affairs were primarily overseen by his finance director, David Canfield, and his team.
He said that there was an investigation by Mr Canfield and his deputy after Mr Canfield received ‘what proved to be very reliable’ information in the summer of 2014 which showed that Ms Dauriac had used her company credit card to fund her lifestyle and incurred significant amounts which were not in relation to the business.
Mr Caudwell said: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that I was devastated by these developments.’
He added: ‘Put simply, it appeared that my trust in her had been seriously abused and the feeling was not dissimilar to a bereavement. I was profoundly disappointed and still am.’
Mr Caudwell is embroiled in a money fight with a French financial expert who left a management job in the wake of being accused of fiddling expenses. Pictured: A branch of Phones4U
Mr Caudwell said that Ms Dauriac agreed to repay the money and apologised.
Concerned that she found the pressure of the business to be too much and that her behaviour over her expenses might be connected to medical problems, he offered to accompany her to therapy.
‘This was a genuine gesture to help, not to bully her as suggested,’ he said.
Mr Caudwell said that he was not directly involved in the decision to suspend Ms Dauriac although he agreed with it.
He was surprised that she resigned without notice as he believed she wished to resolve the matter.
He said he was not involved in the process that resulted in the transfer of her shares.
Mr Caudwell said he ‘absolutely’ denied that he engaged in any form of conspiracy against Ms Dauriac and the allegation that he was involved in a ‘plan’ to remove her from the business was ‘absurd’.
‘I do not hide the fact that I was very disappointed with Ms Dauriac and believed that she had abused my trust.
‘However, I did not expect her to resign and did not initially think that she would be dismissed.
‘The disciplinary investigation was intended to establish a fair procedure in order to test the allegations and was not a foregone conclusion at all.’
Mr Justice Marcus Smith is analysing the dispute at a trial in London’s High Court(pictured) and has heard how Mr Caudwell and Ms Dauriac set up Signia in 2009
The High Court trial also gave an insight into Mr Caudwell’s thrifty spending policies.
Mr Caudwell always travelled as cheaply as possible, one of the businessman’s staff told Mr Justice Marcus Smith.
Timothy Maycock, an accountant working in Mr Caudwell’s private office, said he encouraged his staff to treat every pound as if it was their own.
The hearing was adjourned until Monday.
Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.