Carillion Managers Deceived Taxpayers, Says FCA

  • It hired 43,000 workers and was integral to many main government development programs, including hospitals and colleges.
  • Critics claimed it was engaged in too many risky ventures, especially internationally, and that it was too thin.
  • Three investigative projects are underway by the Financial Reporting Committee, the Accountancy Monitor.

Carillion and several of its former managers today earned a fierce slap from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Friday, which accused the defunct construction giant of supplying “fake or misleading” stock market details. Two years earlier, the building giant collapsed under the weight of £1.5 billion in debts.

Carillion plc was a British multinational construction and facilities management services company headquartered in Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom, prior to its liquidation – officially, “the largest ever trading liquidation in the UK” – which began in January 2018.

It hired 43,000 workers and was integral to many main government development programs, including hospitals and colleges. The Battersea Power Station and the Anfield Stadium extension were included in the programs.

Critics claimed it was engaged in too many risky ventures, especially internationally, and that it was too thin. The securities plummeted as the region felt dissatisfied with its finances. On Friday, the FCA released a notice against the company and its former Executive Directors. The FCA could not nominate the administrators.

The FCA confirmed that it plans to seek measures against former business administrators for violations of its laws and standards. The FCA has a number of penalties, including fines and prohibitions on controlled practices.

The Authority also claimed that it proposed to censor Carillion publicly, but did not intend to impose a fine on the failed firm, which crashed in January 2018.

The London-listed organization was a major government contractor, which took on a large variety of outsourced work for the state, including the HS2 program and military repair. It had 43,000 staff, including 19,500 in Britain.

However, it was unable to investigate more thoroughly the manner in which the finances of businesses were audited. It was headed for several years by Richard Howson, 52, its Chief Executive Officer from 2012 to July 2017 until its fall.

The FCA did not describe the entities who were planning to sue, other than that at “material period” between 1 July 2016 and 10 July 2017, they were executive directors. It highlighted three announcements made in December 2016 and March and May 2017 by Carillion. The regulator said:

“They made misleading positive statements about Carillion’s financial performance generally and in relation to its UK construction business in particular, which did not reflect significant deteriorations in the expected financial performance of that business and the increasing financial risks associated with it.”

It says that the managers know the condition and failed to ensure that Carillion’s statements that they were accountable for represented these problems correctly and completely. Individuals were “knowingly worried” about the abuses perpetrated by the firm. There has been no definitive statement about what step the regulator is likely to take.

Cat Hobbs, director of campaign group We Own It, said:

“These latest revelations on Carillion are shocking. Not only was the company operating a fundamentally unsustainable model and putting our vital public services at risk, it was misleading its own shareholders and trying to cover up its failings. The total scandal of Carillion’s collapse should have been a turning point. Instead of hiving off huge chunks of the public sector to dodgy outsourcing companies, our services should be run publicly and in house.”

The Financial Conduct Authority is a financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom, but operates independently of the UK Government, and is financed by charging fees to members of the financial services industry.

The Focus of Many Investigations

Three investigative projects are underway by the Financial Reporting Committee, the Accountancy Monitor.

These include a study of the actions of Richard Adam, the long-term outsourcer’s financial director until December 2016, and his replacement Zafar Khan, who quit in September 2017. It also discusses the function of KPMG, the auditor of Carillion.

The FCA challenged Carillion’s procedures and checks, which it said was not adequately rigorous to guarantee the proper making, documentation, and internal reporting to the board and audit committee of contract accountants in its UK construction sector.

Unite assistant general-secretary Gail Cartmail said:

“It is astonishing that nearly three years after Carillion’s collapse no-one has yet been charged let alone convicted over their actions. Without a doubt Carillion had been trading while insolvent for some time before its collapse. This was not a victimless white collar crime, thousands of workers lost their jobs. If executives and directors had reported honestly on Carillion’s financial predicament, many of those job losses could have been avoided.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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