Accountancy firms ‘feasted’ on Carillion’s carcass

A joint inquiry by two select committees has published a breakdown of fees collected by KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY.

It comes a day after latest figures from the insolvency service showed a total of 989 jobs have so far been lost since Carillion went into liquidation.

The company collapsed last month with debts of £1.3bn and a pension deficit estimated at up to £2.6bn. It employed 20,000 people in the UK and held hundreds of public contracts – from building schools to providing school dinners.

Accountancy firms ‘feasted’ on Carillion’s carcass
Accountancy firms ‘feasted’ on Carillion’s carcass

Figures obtained from the accountancy and professional services ‘big four’ by the Work and Pensions Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee showed they had billed the company, pension schemes and the Government £71m since 2008 relating to Carillion.

Mr Field, chairman of the work and pensions committee, said: “The image of these companies feasting on what was soon to become a carcass will not be lost on decent citizens.

“The former directors of Carillion are, unlike their pensioners, suppliers and employees, alright.

“These figures show that, as ever, the Big Four are alright too. All of them did extensive – and expensive – work for Carillion.”

PwC, which is handling the liquidation process, came in for particular criticism.

Mr Field said: “PwC managed to play all three sides – the company, pension schemes and the Government – to the tune of £21m and are now being paid to preside over the carcass of the company as Special Managers.”

According to information published by the committees, KPMG has banked £20m in fees since 2008, PwC £21m, Deloitte £12m and EY £18m.

The role of KPMG has come under the spotlight after the collapse, with the Financial Reporting Council opening an investigation into its work auditing Carillion’s books.

Rachel Reeves, chair of the BEIS committee, said it had “serious questions to answer”.

KPMG responded to the MPs in an 18-page letter from UK chairman Bill Michael, challenging suggestions that it effectively gave Carillion a “clean bill of health” and that its audit findings prior to its collapse meant it had done a “bad job”.

Representatives from KPMG are due to appear before MPs next week.

EY said it had been brought in to work with Carillion’s new management team after it issued a major profit warning last July, to try to find a solution to help it survive.

UK chairman Steve Varley said: “We are saddened that such a solution could not be found and are very conscious of the impact the company’s collapse has had on its pensioners, employees, sub-contractors and on those who rely on the services which they were providing.”

PwC said: “The majority of the work that PwC undertook directly for Carillion was carried out prior to June 2015 rather than in the last few months before its collapse.

“Our technical skills and ability to deal with complex business problems led to our appointments to work for the Government and the pension trustees.”

Deloitte, which also submitted information about its work with Carillion to MPs, did not add any further comment when asked by Sky News to respond the MPs’ remarks.

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