Just a week after Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), the parent company of Pier 1 and Dress Barn, acquired U.K.-based luxury brand Ralph & Russo, the joint administrators who handled the acquisition deal have filed a lawsuit against co-founder Tamara Ralph for $28.8 million.
The administrators, Begbies Traynor Group and Quantuma Advisory, are accusing co-founders Michael Russo and Ralph of using substantial sums of money for personal use on hotel stays, flights and Ralph’s pet after the company raised more than $83.2 million in funding between 2018 and 2020.
”We have a statutory duty to investigate the affairs of the Company, the conduct of the directors and any shadow directors and, in particular, in relation to the £60 million invested into the company and spent by the founder directors at the expense of the pension regulator, HMRC, secured, preferential and unsecured creditors. We are continuing our enquiries in that regard,” a spokesperson for the administrators said in a statement.
Russo has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit, Business of Fashion reported.
Ralph, meanwhile, has denied any wrongdoing and has called the allegations misconceived and demonstrably false and a part of a “concerted campaign to bully, silence and coerce” her. She added that she would defeat the claims in court if they were not withdrawn.
”The diversion of employee pension and tax contributions to fund the lavish lifestyle of Tamara Ralph is both morally and legally wrong,” a spokesperson for Candy Ventures, Ralph & Russo’s largest secured creditor, said. “The legal authorities must intervene and bring justice to the 150 employees who have lost their jobs and pensions as a result of serial wrongdoing at the company.”