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Nick Candy bids to freeze former partner's assets in row over tech investment

Nick Candy - JULIAN SIMMONDS
Nick Candy - JULIAN SIMMONDS

Property developer Nick Candy has sought a worldwide asset freeze against a former business partner in a fraud case at the High Court.

The 49-year-old investor is suing Robert Bonnier, a former dot-com multi-millionaire, and a tech company he controls for alleged fraud.

Mr Bonnier is the largest investor in Aaqua, a Dutch social media company which Mr Candy backed last year.

Mr Candy alleges he was misled about Aaqua’s prospects and has demanded its assets and those of Mr Bonnier are frozen.

Mr Bonnier and the company said they “strongly refuted” the claims.

The High Court has granted the freeze, but ordered Mr Candy to “personally satisfy” a guarantee of up to £10m in order to apply the freeze. It said that if the asset freeze wrongly caused any loss to Mr Bonnier or Aaqua then Mr Candy may be personally responsible for compensation.

Mr Candy’s company has until 4pm on Monday to put up the money. If it does not, the freeze could be quashed.

Aaqua took a £6.8m stake in Audioboom, an AIM-listed podcasting company in which Mr Candy is the second-largest investor, while Mr Candy received shares in Mr Bonnier’s company.

Mr Bonnier made a £188m bid for Audioboom last year and received the support of Mr Candy. It was ultimately rejected by Audioboom’s board, however. The market valuation is now only £131m after a 44pc slide so far this year.

A spokesman for Mr Bonnier said the asset freeze was an attempt to cause “maximum damage to Aaqua’s business and hardship to its employees”.

The spokesman added its contract with Mr Candy “perfectly clearly stated” that its investment relied on its own due diligence. The case continues.