Greater Manchester Police (GMP) are investigating fraud allegations at SMG Europe, the operator of the Manchester Arena and other venues in the UK and abroad.
In a statement, GMP has said: “On 15 October 2014, police received an allegation of fraud. An investigation has been launched and enquiries are ongoing.” CN understands there have been no arrests yet, and inquiries are ongoing.
The Manchester-based company is a subsidiary of US venue specialist SMG. The parent company operates 230 venues, including arenas in Poland and Germany, as well as in Newcastle, York, Belfast, Scunthorpe and Leeds.
Ampthemag.com website reported 24 July that the fraud investigation was tied to an internal embezzlement case and quoted Bruce Hanson, corporate council for SMG, who said that last year “internal controls picked up a potential embezzlement” by an employee.
“They use the term fraud a little differently,” in the UK, Hanson said. “SMG is not being investigated. Police are looking at a possible crime against the company.” He added that SMG had first discovered financial impropriety “several years ago”.
Police in the UK have confirmed were investigating a case involving SMG Europe and Manchester Arena.
No mention of any alleged financial irregularities, however, were made in the company’s 2014 accounts published last week.
The business is looking for a new naming rights partner for the 21,000-capacity Manchester venue, which after London’s O2 is the second busiest in the world. The venue is also undergoing a major refurbishment programme.
The business is said to have contributed more than £3bn to the Greater Manchester economy in the 20 years it has been open. During the first three months of 2015, 414,000 tickets were sold.
SMG Europe has a new senior management team after the departures of long-serving chief executive John Sutherland and finance director Alan Robinson within the last two years.
The company also bought event, catering and hospitality business CGC Events Services in January this year.