Millions spent Northampton Town missing £10m probe

Sixfields stadium Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Northampton Town's East Stand remains unfinished following the original £10.25m for its redevelopment

More than £3m has been spent on a "corruption" inquiry into a missing loan to a football club.

Northampton Borough Council loaned £10.25m to Northampton Town in 2013 and 2014 to redevelop Sixfields stadium, but the funds seemingly vanished.

The council has paid out £2.3m to find the money and Northamptonshire Police has spent £974,000 investigating allegations including theft and fraud.

The force said the case was of "high public interest".

Detectives working on Operation Tuckhill have previously described it as a "corruption" inquiry which also involves allegations of bribery and money laundering.

The £10.25m loan was intended to rebuild part of Northampton Town's stadium and develop nearby land.

'In line'

But the work was not completed after the company into which more than £7m of the money was channelled, 1st Land Ltd, went bust.

Det Ch Supt Mark Behan said the case was of "high public interest" and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner would apply for extra funding from the Home Office.

It would be "inappropriate not to complete the investigation on the basis of cost," he added.

"While the costs are substantial, they are in line with our expectations."

Northampton Borough Council has paid law firms, auditors and a company providing document storage to trace the missing money but the figure does not reflect the costs of its officers' time.

The largest single cost incurred by the council was a payment to law firm Osborne Clarke and hiring a QC in relation to its successful Birmingham High Court action against the former owners of Northampton Town, David and Anthony Cardoza in 2019.

Anthony Cardoza declared himself bankrupt after he was ordered to repay £2.1m from the amount loaned to the club.

Northampton Borough Council costs breakdown

  • Osborne Clarke LLP and QC - £1,383,208 - legal costs in relation to High Court Action against Anthony, David and Christina Cardoza
  • Deloitte - £41,011 - investigation into NTFC accounts
  • Grant Thornton/Hennesseys - £14,129 - investigations into companies and individuals
  • Open Text - £12,330 - hosting fees to store all related documentation
  • Mischon De Reya/Radcliffes - £120,000 - expenses relating to council attempt to obtain summary judgement in 2017
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers - £45,262 - internal audit report in relation to the loan
  • KMPG - £383,636.00 - external audit costs
  • Shakespeare Martineau - £42,866.00 - related initial professional fees
  • Osborne Clarke - £169,404.80 - related initial professional fees
  • Deloittes - £45,424.04 - related initial professional fees
  • Brown Jacobson - £13,749.12 - related initial professional fees

Source: Freedom of Information request

The Crown Prosecution Service is currently reviewing files relating to 30 suspects including the former council leader and ex-Conservative MP for Northampton South, David Mackintosh, along with the owner of 1st land Ltd, Howard Grossman.

Both Mr Grossman and Mr Mackintosh deny any wrongdoing.

Councillor Jonathan Nunn, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: "Legal action is expensive, and we know we have to be extremely careful when considering the additional costs involved in recovering this money, alongside considering the strength of public feeling towards the recovery of the loan.

"This is a long process, and we may never recover the full amount, but we are committed to doing all we can to give Northampton's tax payers a fair outcome."

Northamptonshire Police said its inquiry was now in the final stages.

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