Lookers, which operates a Volkswagen dealership in Carlisle, has warned investors they might be unable to buy and sell its shares from the beginning of July.

The car dealership has discovered a potential fraud on its books and bosses will likely have to suspend shares, potentially until the end of August, after a review into last year's accounts by auditing firm Grant Thornton.

The auditor's experts have been poring over Lookers' 2019 financial statements since being appointed earlier this year and have submitted a draft report to the company

In March, Lookers disclosed that it had found irregularities in its books and delayed the publication of its annual results, which were due in April.

A spokesman said at the time: "The company has identified potentially fraudulent transactions in one of its operating divisions."

Just days later, chief operating officer Cameron Wade resigned, after less than two months with the firm. No reason was given for his departure.

Now the business has said it, and its normal auditor Deloitte, will need more time than allowed under Financial Conduct Authority Rules to get its results in order.

If it cannot deliver the results by June 30, shares will be suspended.

"Having discussed the draft report with Deloitte, and with that report to be finalised, the company has concluded that the additional procedures that the company and Deloitte will now need to perform in order to finalise the 2019 results means that it will not be possible to publish the 2019 results by June 30 2020," it said in a statement to shareholders.

Bosses added: "After consultation with the FCA, if the 2019 results are not published by June 30 2020, the company anticipates that trading in the company's shares will be temporarily suspended."

The likely suspension will last until Lookers manages to publish its results, which it will try to ensure are published by "no later than the end of August".

Auditor Deloitte has told the company it intends to resign from the job.

The Carlisle branch is shut, having been closed in March due to the current lockdown. Last week, Lookers announced plans to axe about 1,500 jobs and close 12 showrooms as it deals with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.