If anyone thought the days of Purplebricks bosses making millions were in the past, think again.
The chief executive and chief finance officer have been awarded shares worth more than £3m as part of a rewards scheme - and this is despite a reported breach of anti-money laundering legislation by the company.
Vic Darvey was yesterday granted 2.5m shares while Andy Botha - the finance head who joined just months ago - received 1.7m shares.
Purplebricks’ share price closed on Friday at 73p, making the awards worth £1.8m and £1.24m respectively.
The bonuses have been made despite an alleged breach in AML regulations by the company.
Purplebricks' 2020 annual report says: "Regrettably, the Group incurred a fine from HMRC for historical breaches of certain aspects of the UK’s anti-money laundering legislation. We have since improved our anti-money laundering controls.” The fine was just under £267,000.
HM Revenue & Customs says the agency had been guilty of “failures in having the correct policies, controls and procedures, conducting due diligence and timing of verification”. It cannot appeal against the verdict or fine.
Last year Countrywide was fined £215,000 by HMRC, again for breaching AML legislation.
Only yesterday Estate Agent Today reported that the Swiss bank UBS advised its clients to consider buying Purplebricks shares, anticipating that a new fees structure to be announced soon might boost the company.
UBS was also optimistic that the agency would at last become more successful in the UK following the disposal of all international activities - most recently the Canadian operation, sold for some £35m.
The executives' windfalls may be difficult to square with the agency’s more recent trading performance, as well as the AML breach.
Instructions fell 23 per cent in the year to the end of April, most of which was well before the Coronavirus lockdown.
And in March of this year the agency’s share price - which launched at 100p five years ago - hit an all-time low of 22p. It has rallied since but remains well below that launch price.
In its last financial year the agency’s revenues fell two per cent to £111.1m while the firm’s total loss for the year was £19.2m.