Carillion investors vent KPMG frustrations, saying accounts "were not a good guide"

Oliver Gill
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British Construction Company Carillion Goes Into Compulsory Liquidation
Carillion fell into liquidation on 15 January (Source: Getty)

Carillion investors were left "frustrated" by KPMG audit sign-offs, MPs were told today.

Accounts "were not a good guide to what was going on", Kiltearn Partners, one the Carillion's biggest backers, said.

Aberdeen Standard and Blackrock were also quizzed by a joint parliamentary inquiry into the failure of what was the government's largest strategic supplier.

KPMG signed off Carillion's 2016 annual accounts on 1 March last year. On 10 July the firm revealed a £845m contract write-down; something that Kiltearn Partners chairman Murdo Murchison said was extraordinary.

"There must have been prior issues that were not presented to investors," he told members of the work and pensions and business select committees.

While Murchison knew Carillion was facing cash flow and balance sheet pressures, he was "surprised" at the depth of the issues.

"I'm extremely frustrated with the audit performance here," he said.

Read more: Learning from Carillion? MP inquiries must shed more light than heat

Mystery novel

Euan Stirling of Aberdeen Standard said:

Sometimes reading a set of accounts can be like reading a mystery novel – every so often another clue pops out.

Stirling did not share the concerns held by many others that Britain's audit industry needs to be shaken up in the wake of the Carillion failure.

However, Carillion's management team delivered "a gloss to the presentations that we felt did not reflect the true business circumstances", he said.

Blackrock, which held both long and short positions in Carillion, claimed the contractor's board was more focused on executive pay. Managing director Amra Balic said there was "too much focus at the board level on remuneration".

She said Blackrock made around £35m for its clients by betting against Carillion.

Read more: Carillion execs blasted as "fantasists" in Qatari £200m FIFA World Cup row

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