Deep Purple's ex-accountant banned as director for 'misappropriating £2m'

Ian Gillan and Steve Morse of Deep Purple play live in Mexico in 2015.
Ian Gillan and Steve Morse of Deep Purple play live in Mexico in 2015. Photograph: Agencia EFE/Rex/Shutterstock

Rock group Deep Purple’s former accountant has been banned as a company director for misappropriating at least £2m from two entities controlling their catalogue of hits.

Dipak Rao, who worked for the band behind the hit Smoke on the Water between 1992 and 2014, has been disqualified for 11 years following an investigation by the Insolvency Service. It found he siphoned money into his personal accounts from two companies, Deep Purple (Overseas) Ltd and HEC Enterprises Ltd, between 2008 and 2014.

The 69-year-old, who lives in Worcester Park, south-west London, concealed what he had done by ensuring that the transactions did not appear in financial accounts and restricted access to the companies’ bank statements, the Insolvency Service said. He resigned in November 2014 as a director of both firms – which control the copyrights of many of the band’s recordings – before they went into administration in January last year.

Sue Macleod, the Insolvency Service’s chief investigator, said: “Rao misappropriated company funds, causing detriment to the company and its creditors, to his own personal benefit.”

The Times reported in January that lead singer, Ian Gillan, 72, the bassist, Roger Glover, 71, and Ian Paice, 69, the drummer, as well as the estate of Jon Lord, the keyboard player who died in 2012, sued Rao in the high court over his management of their financial affairs. The case, which is believed to be ongoing, is separate to the Insolvency Service investigation.

The newspaper said the high court granted a £4m freezing order against the assets of Rao and his wife, Anvita. It said Rao admitted “borrowing” or “lending” at least £2.27m of the companies’ money, and that the Deep Purple companies had recovered about £477,000 so far.

Formed in 1968, Deep Purple became one of the world’s biggest rock bands, filling stadiums around the world. The group split in 1976 amid drug addiction and exhaustion, before reforming in 1984.

The band become the latest music stars to be caught in a tussle over money. Leonard Cohen sued his former manager Kelley Lynch in 2005, claiming she had stolen $5m (£3.7m) from his personal accounts. The court found in his favour and ordered Lynch to pay him $9.5m. The Rolling Stones sued their former manager, Allen Klein, in a long-running legal dispute that was eventually settled out of court.

After releasing their 20th album, InFinite, in April, Deep Purple are on the road with their The Long Goodbye tour.