POLICE have launched a fraud probe after a ‘significant amount of levy payers’ money' from the Bournemouth Coastal Business Improvement District’s coffers could not be traced.

It has been claimed that around £100,000 is currently unaccounted for, although exact figures involved have not been confirmed by police.

An investigation was formally launched in August.

The Daily Echo has made unsuccessful attempts to contact the former manager of the organisation, Stefan Krause.

He no longer works for the BID.

It is understood he has returned to Germany with his husband.

Bournemouth’s independent business owners based along the coast and in Pokesdown, Southbourne and Westbourne pay a mandatory levy on their rates to the BID, in addition to normal business rates.

Some of the area’s biggest companies also pay between one and 1.5 per cent of their business rates to the organisation.

These businesses include the BIC and many of the area’s hotels, including the Hilton and the Royal Bath.

Paul Clarke, chair of the BID and cluster general manager of the Hallmark Bournemouth Hotels, said: “As the BID is funded by public money it was reported to the police, who are currently investigating.

"As this is an ongoing matter I am unable to comment further.

“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure our levy payers that it is business as normal and that the BID is fully focused on delivering its business plan, which includes the amazing Christmas Tree Wonderland, in collaboration with the Bournemouth Town Centre BID and BCP Council.”

Martin Davies, chairman of the Bournemouth Town Centre BID, said: “We have offered our help and support both to the Coastal BID and BCP Council in view of the current situation.

“I would like to stress that the Bournemouth Town Centre BID is a wholly separate company and operates totally independently of the Coastal BID, with its own staff, management and board of directors.

“Working with the business community, BCP, the public and a whole host of partner organisations, the Town Centre BID continues to play a big part in making the town centre a better, friendlier, cleaner and more prosperous place to live and work, not least in the very important festive season.”

Police investigating the allegation say that no arrests have been made and no charges have been brought.