MPs demand minutes, presentations from Carillion bosses after contradictory statements

Catherine Neilan
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Carillion Bosses Appear Before Commons Select Committee
Former chief executive Richard Howson is being asked for more detail on various issues, including his work in Qatar (Source: Getty)

MPs have demanded the release of a "significant" number of Carillion's internal documents including company minutes and a presentation that is said to have "spooked" the board into firing the finance boss just months before the firm collapsed.

The Work and Pensions Committee and the Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills (Beis) Committee, who are carrying out a joint inquiry into the causes of Carillion's demise, have asked the Official Receiver to hand over papers and minutes from the board and its audit, remuneration and pensions committees.

The presentation given by former chief financial officer Zafar Khan has also been requested, as have documents including the contracts review carried out ahead of the 2017 profit warning, details of its failed rights issue in June 2017 and the final requests to government for financial support in January 2018.

On top of this, MPs have written to the directors for more detail after they gave "contradictory" or evasive testimony during a four-hour grilling last week.

Former boss Richard Howson, for example, is asked for more detail about the structural beams used in certain projects, whose design flaws were among the many factors ascribed some responsibility for Carillion’s downfall.

Howson has also been asked about his dealings on the Qatar contract - singled out for particular blame for the company’s demise - and how much he was paid for his ongoing work in Qatar after he was removed as chief executive.

Khan has been asked to clarify the terms of his departure, including whether a non-disclosure agreement was attached to it.

Former chairman Philip Green has been asked about the “surprise” deterioration in the company’s cash flow, which was shown in Khan's September 2017 presentation that “spooked” the board and led to his dismissal.

Former interim chief executive Keith Cochrane has been asked about his change to the “provision”, to clarify his interaction with the institutional investors who were offloading or shorting their shares in Carillion, and also about an apparent contradiction over negotiations with the main pension schemes’ trustee.

Richard Adam has been asked to explain why the “healthy” company he left at the end of 2016, fended up in compulsory liquidation a year later, and about acquisitions like Alfred McAlpine, which added £650m “goodwill” to Carillion’s books but otherwise held net liabilities of £50m.

On top of this a "litany of organisations", including Qatar contractors Msheireb, Slaughter and May, Lazard and Morgan Stanley, have been contacted to ask about their involvement in Carillion's demise.

The Federation of Small Business has also been approached to discuss further the claim that Carillion was "notorious late payers" who "abused their dominant position".

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