Michael Bright, the flamboyant former boss of Independent Insurance, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud along with two other former directors, following the collapse of the insurer in 2001.

The Serious Fraud Office brought the charges against Bright, the former company chairman and managing director; former deputy managing director and group director Philip Condon; and Dennis Lomas, former group finance director.

The trio, who appeared before City of London Magistrates' Court last month, were charged with conspiracy to defraud over the "true extent of the liabilities" of Independent Insurance Company and Independent Insurance Group. Independent Insurance went into liquidation in June 2001.

All three indicated pleas of not guilty.

The collapse of Independent sent shockwaves throughout the insurance industry which have still yet to be fully resolved. Brokers were left owing millions of pounds in premiums and commissions to the provisional liquidator, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The case has been transferred to Southwark Crown Court for a preliminary hearing on 24 March. Bright, Condon and Lomas are on conditional bail relating to residence and travel documents.