Accountancy firm Grant Thornton has been fined more than £2.3m over the numerous failings in audits of Patisserie Valerie, which collapsed in January 2019.

The café chain called in administrators after being unable to renew its bank facilities, amid allegations of fraud following a £20m hole in its accounts. Its collapse led to the closure of 70 stores and more than 900 job losses.

Grant Thornton was said to have had a “serious lack of competence” in its accounting procedures, with the fines relating to its clean audit opinions on Patisserie Valerie’s accounts for the financial years ending 2015, 2016 and 2017, reported the Financial Times.

David Newstead, who led the audit was separately fined £87,750 and banned from carrying out statutory audits for three years. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) reduced the two fines from £4m and £150k, respectively, owing to the co-operation by the firm and Newstead in the investigations and their admissions about the failings.

Claudia Mortimore, deputy executive counsel to the FRC, said the findings showed “a serious lack of competence in conducting the audit work”.

“The audit of Patisserie Holdings Plc’s revenue and cash in particular involved missed red flags, a failure to obtain sufficient audit evidence and a failure to stand back and question information provided by management,” she said.