Merlin chief in discussions with SFO

Merlin Bioscience’s chief executive, Sir Christopher Evans, has been interviewed by the Serious Fraud Office as part of an investigation into allegations of fraud.

Sir Christopher Evans, chief executive of UK venture capital firm Merlin Biosciences, met with members of the country’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) yesterday as part of an investigation by the SFO and City of London Police regarding investments made by one of its funds, according to the Financial Times.

According to a spokesperson for Merlin: “the meeting with the Serious Fraud Office had been scheduled for some time. Merlin execs assisted the SFO during yesterday’s meeting and will continue to do so over the next few weeks.”

The spokesperson added that there were no major developments or decisions made during yesterday’s meeting.

The investigation was launched following allegations by a former Merlin director regarding financial irregularities relating to investments made by Merlin’s third fund in healthcare company Engergist International, according to various reports.

Founded in 1996 by Evans, who also founded life science firms Chiroscience, Celsis and Enzymatix, Merlin Biosciences manages three funds worth in excess of €450 million ($542 million).

According to a recent report in UK newspaper The Observer, Merlin is planning to launch a £100 million to £150 million fourth fund early next year.