Two former Carillion finance bosses are to be investigated over their conduct by the UK’s accounting watchdog.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) will probe the collapsed construction giant’s former group finance directors Richard Adam and Zafar Khan over statements made between 2014 and 2017.
The inquiry will cover the years ending December 31 2014, 2015 and 2016, the six-month period to June 30, 2017, and the preparation and reporting of other financial information between 2014-2017.
Monumental collapse: Carillion’s demise left in its wake a £900m debt pile, a £590m pension deficit and hundreds of millions of pounds in unfinished public contracts
The FRC announced a separate investigation earlier this year into how accountancy giant KPMG audited the accounts of Carillion, which was the UK’s second largest construction firm, employing 43,000 people including 20,000 in the UK, before it plunged into liquidation in January.
The firm’s demise left in its wake a £900million debt pile, a £590m pension deficit and hundreds of millions of pounds in unfinished public contracts.
City banks, law firms and accountancy giants have been sharply rebuked by MPs over Carillion’s fall, with former bosses coming under fire for the pay awards they received as the company struggled.
Adam and Khan are among senior Carillion figures to have been questioned by MPs looking into the company’s collapse.
An influential group of MPs claimed last month that Adam ‘dumped’ his last shares in Carillion – worth hundreds of thousands of pounds – at the first opportunity.
Adam retired at the end of December 2016.
On March 1, 2017 he sold his entire existing shareholding for £534,000, including performance awards for 2013-2015 of £277,000 which vested on his retirement.
He then sold his long-term incentive plan awards for 2014 on May 8, 2017, the day they vested, for £242,000.
In total, in March and May 2017 he sold shares worth £776,000, the Work and Pensions and Business Select Committees revealed last month.
Khan had his contract terminated last September after eight months in the job, having ‘spooked’ Carillion’s board with a financial update a few days earlier that showed there had been a further decline in the company’s position since the ‘shock’ £845m contract write down in July 2017, said the committees.
Fresh probe: Zafar Khan, along with fellow former group finance director Richard Adam, is being investigated by the FRC over statements made between 2014 and 2017
Earlier this month, MPs released a report, commissioned by the firm’s board last year that concluded Carillion ‘aggressively managed’ its balance sheet to make its accounts look better.
The draft independent business review said that income had been brought forward and payments postponed in order to flatter the company’s accounts.
The report was intended to be presented to would-be lenders, but it was never used.
The FRC said that it was liaising closely with the Official Receiver, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the Insolvency Service and the Pensions Regulator ‘to ensure that there is a joined-up approach to the investigation of all matters arising from the collapse of Carillion’.
The FCA is currently looking into the ‘timeliness and content’ of Carillion’s market updates.
The work and pensions committee chair, Frank Field, welcomed the FRC’s decision to widen its probe to include directors but said regulators should have acted sooner.
‘If the select committees hadn’t undertaken this review, all the horrors of Carillion would have been swept under a carpet, lumpy as the carpet would have been afterwards,’ he said.
Jobs saved: Network Rail is on the cusp of securing the future of up to 500 workers on the remaining Carillion contracts that were left up in the air after its dramatic collapse in January
‘Great news the FRC is acting but where were they when all this was blowing up?
‘What Britain desperately needs is a regulatory system that is on the front foot.’
The Official Receiver said 8,216 jobs have been saved since the company went into liquidation, with nearly 1,500 workers losing their jobs.
Network Rail, meanwhile, is on the cusp of securing the future of up to 500 workers on the remaining Carillion contracts that were left up in the air after its dramatic collapse in January.
The state-controlled track owner said it was close to confirming the future of four contracts which were valued at a combined £160m when they began.
These include rail improvement schemes in Sheffield and Edinburgh, projects which Carillion was working on with joint venture partners.
In Scotland, SPL Powerlines, a joint venture between Powerlines Group and Carillion, will continue electrification work in Edinburgh, safeguarding about 200 jobs.
The other two contracts in Cardiff and Oxford, which Carillion was working on alone, are set to be handed to new firms by its special administrator PwC as early as the end of the month, securing a further 300 workers’ futures.