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Ex-Carillion chiefs to be grilled by MP inquiry

The former bosses of Carillion will be questioned by MPs as part of a parliamentary inquiry into the failed contractor.

Six of the failed firm’s top executives have been summoned to appear, including former chief executive Richard Howson (pictured), ex-chairman Philip Green and interim CEO at the time of its collapse Keith Cochrane.

Ex-finance directors Richard Adam, Emma Mercer and Zafar Khan will also be quizzed by a panel of MPs, with the sessions taking place in just under two weeks’ time on Tuesday 6 February.

The inquiry is a joint effort from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The two departments intend to probe Carillion’s collapse with a focus on the “mountain of debt, potential job losses in the thousands, a giant pension deficit and hundreds of millions of pounds of unfinished public contracts with vast ongoing costs to the UK taxpayer”.

The inquiry will involve members of the DWP and BEIS select committees.

Work and pensions select committee chair Frank Field said: “The particularly nasty twist in this now grimly familiar tale is the mountain of debt and giant pension deficit this public services contractor leaves in the wreckage of its collapse – with an accompanying massive hit to the public purse.”

Business, energy and industrial strategy select committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “In the wake of the BHS scandal, Carillion has the hallmarks of another corporate governance failure with directors asleep at the wheel while the business went off a cliff, in this case leaving jobs, pensions and public services under threat and a host of suppliers out of pocket.

“How is it that so many warning signs were ignored by the company and the government?

“What were the Carillion board and senior management doing to address the spiralling problems at the company?

“Why are the regulatory bodies stepping in only after Carillion’s collapse?

“As a committee we will also want to explore the executive pay arrangements at Carillion, the potential cost to the taxpayer of the insolvency, and the role of both directors and non-executive directors in the company’s collapse.”

Last week, business secretary Greg Clark intervened to fast-track an investigation into Carillion’s directors following its collapse.

It was also announced by the Insolvency Service that bonuses and severance payments to Carillion directors had been stopped.

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