Arun Sudhaman 31 Oct 2012 // 12:00AM GMT
SAN FRANCISCO--Next Fifteen has delayed its full year results after discovering "complex fraud" at Bite Communications in North America.
In a trading update, the group said that it has been the "victim of a complex fraud involving a senior member of the finance team in its Bite North America subsidiary, and as a result the company has chosen to delay its results pending a full investigation, which it expects to be completed in the next four weeks."
While one analyst has estimated the sum of money involved at £2m, the Holmes Report understands that this is a worst-case scenario.
Next Fifteen CEO Tim Dyson told the Holmes Report that he suspects a long-term senior finance employee "systematically defrauded us of a significant sum of money through a fairly elaborate check-writing scheme," over the past 18 months.
The company is currently unable to locate the employee in question and has informed the FBI. Suspicions were raised during the past seven days, said Dyson, following a desk review of dormant parts of the business.
Next 15 has also hired Kroll to "carry out a full forensic investigation".
The group also said the issue has had "no impact on the underlying trading of the group in the financial year to July 2012," nor since then.
Next Fifteen expects to report revenue, adjusted profits and earnings which are in line with market expectations.