MPs highlight Carillion’s ‘cheeky’ ask for £10m government bailout

19 Mar 18

Collapsed public services and construction contractor Carillion paid £6.4m to business advisers the day before it asked taxpayers for a £10m bailout.

That disclosure has come from MPs on two committees conducting an inquiry into how the company failed in January.

Work and pensions committee chair, Labour’s Frank Field, said: “With the company teetering on the abyss, [Carillion chairman Philip] Green had the cheek to try and get the government to surrender another £160m of taxpayers' money.

“I am not surprised the government took with a pinch of salt his assurances that all would be reimbursed once he had unscrambled the eggs.”

Green had sought £10m immediately but £160m in all from the government to prop up the ailing company, the MPs from the work and pensions, and business, energy and industrial strategy committees revealed. 

Field said that the following day Carillion made payments totalling £6.4m to advisors “including the EY restructuring gravy train and half the law firms in the City of London”.

“The smaller suppliers that are the lifeblood of the British economy of course got no such treatment,” he added. 

The largest payments were £2.5m to EY, £1.2m to law firm Slaughter & May and £1m to FTI Consulting, which describes itself as: “An independent global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organisations manage change, mitigate risk and resolve disputes.”

Rachel Reeves the Labour MP who chairs the business, energy and industrial strategy committee said: “Expensive advisers still pocketed millions while workers risked losing jobs and long-suffering suppliers faced financial ruin”.

The committees said the request for the £10m bailout was in a letter from Green that referred to the risks of trading while insolvent.

Green’s letter to Cabinet Office permanent secretary John Manzoni said: “We are therefore deeply concerned that, if HM government determines in the near term not to support Carillion, that will lead very rapidly into what is likely be a very disorderly and value destructive insolvency process…any attempt to manage this process will come with enormous cost to HM government, far exceeding the costs of continued funding for the business.”

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