Businessman in fight with bank and accountant prepares for trial

A businessman who ran a car auction operation is preparing for a High Court trial after becoming embroiled in a legal battle with Lloyds Bank and accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers over financing.

The dispute centres on the now-insolvent Premier Motor Auctions, which was run by businessman Keith Elliott, and based in Leeds.

Liquidators have complained that Lloyds gained effective control over Premier Motor Auctions, which also operated a unique registration plate before going into liquidation in 2010, after conspiring with accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Lloyds and PwC deny the allegations.

They say former managing director Mr Elliott ran the company into the ground after drawing heavily on funds to support an extravagant lifestyle

Lawyers say a judge will oversee a trial during April and May.

Mr Justice Snowden has been considering the case for more than a year.

PwC denies the claims (Philip Toscano/PA)
PwC denies the claims (Philip Toscano/PA)

The judge heard legal argument at a further preliminary hearing on Monday and lawyers say he is listed to oversee a trial between April 10 and May 25.

He published detail of allegation and counter allegation in a preliminary ruling in October 2015.

The judge said Lloyds had introduced Mr Elliott to a PwC representative, following discussions about financial arrangements.

Premier Motor Auctions' liquidators subsequently took legal action, claiming the PwC representative had been introduced to Mr Elliott on false pretences.

"It is said that (he) was used by the bank and PwC as part of a conspiracy to obtain an internal assessment of Premier Motor Auctions to identify a fictitious need for additional finance that could then be provided by the bank on terms that gave it effective control ... and the means to force them into administration so that their business and assets could be sold at an undervalue ... for the benefit of the bank," said Mr Justice Snowden in the preliminary ruling.

"Those allegations are denied by (Lloyds and PwC), who contend that in reality Premier Motor Auctions (was) 'run into the ground' by Mr Elliott ... who drew heavily on (company) funds to support his own extravagant lifestyle."

He indicated that Premier Motor Auctions' liquidators wanted compensation for losses they estimated at around £50 million.