Qatari contractor denies it owed Carillion £200 million

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MPs have published evidence which “systematically refutes” claims by Carillion directors laying significant blame on a Qatari contractor for the construction giant’s collapse.

The Work and Pensions and Business Select Committees said they were told by former chief executive Richard Howson that Msheireb owed Carillion £200 million when he left his job in July last year.

But in correspondence with the committees, Msheireb “entirely refutes” the claim, saying Mr Howson was “misleadingly” referring to the value of construction work remaining to be completed, plus the value of claims relating to further delays.

The firm said Carillion owed it money, including “good faith overpayments” made to help the UK construction company, and payments Msheireb made subcontractors who Carillion had not paid.

Mshereib said a claim by former Carillion chief executive Keith Cochrane that the company was not paid for the Qatar contract for 18 months prior to the business failing was “factually incorrect”.

“It takes a special kind of optimism – that of a man kept on after his sacking to keep up morale – to classify money one hopes to earn in the future, on a challenging project, as money “owed” to you.

“He cannot tell the difference between money he’d like to be paid, he wishes would be paid, and money that is actually owed to him.

“The likes of non-executive directors and auditors are there to guide the company – and its books – back down to earth.

“In the case of Carillion it was, unfortunately, a crash landing.”

Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “The Carillion directors’ litany of excuses for the collapse of the company is fast unravelling.

“While spiralling debt problems and failing contracts signalled the alarm to almost everyone but Carillion’s directors and auditors, their former chief executive was jet-setting off to Qatar to chase a pot of gold that may never have existed.

“Once again Carillion’s directors appear to have shut their eyes and ears to the real problems at the company and failed dismally to take meaningful action to avert its tragic collapse.”

A total of 1,371 Carillion workers have lost their jobs since the company went into liquidation last month.

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