Administrators of an entertainment company linked to Sarah, Duchess of York are investigating a number of allegedly suspicious transactions.
Insolvency practitioners are looking at loans, investments and some related-party deals entered into by Gate Ventures, which was chaired by Lord Grade of Yarmouth, the former BBC boss.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of loans written by the company to the duchess, a former director of Gate, and loss-making theatre investments linked to Lord Grade, 77, are among the transactions under scrutiny.
Gate was founded in 2015 and backed West End shows such as 42nd Street and Sunset Boulevard, as well as films and start-ups.
The business was placed in administration in March after it failed to fend off a High Court claim from Zheng Youngxiong, an investor who claimed that the business owes him £2.5 million.
Insolvency practitioners from Quantuma are investigating the company’s affairs and are trying to return money to creditors, while an administrator from Moore Kingston Smith is examining counter-claims made by Gate concerning Mr Zheng’s conduct.
The duchess, 60, was a director of Gate between July 2017 and December last year. She received a £290,000 personal loan from Gate, while Ginger & Moss, a tea company that she set up, received a loan of £232,000.
“Ginger . . . has not achieved material sales to date. We are investigating loans which have been made, together with how best to optimise this investment for the benefit of creditors,” administrators recorded in proposals filed at Companies House. The duchess is understood to believe that Gate also owes her money and is said to be in discussions with administrators.
Administrators found Gate “made a number of theatre investments which have generated significant losses. The most notable of these was in 42nd Street. However, the circumstances in which the company made funds available to 42nd Street and the quantum of those funds is currently not clear.”
They said they were investigating the books and records of an entity called GL(42nd ST) with the “co-operation of the directors of that company”. Lord Grade is among the directors of GL(42nd ST).
Other investigations include investments associated with Johnny Hon, Gate’s former chairman, who has links to the royal family.
A spokesman for Lord Grade and Gate’s directors declined to comment.