An investigation into the collapse of construction giant Carillion will be fast-tracked and “extended in scope”.
Business Secretary Greg Clark gave the order that will see company directors past and present probed to discover if they “caused detriment to those owed money”.
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Image: Business Secretary Greg Clark says any misconduct would be taken ‘very seriously’
He said in a statement: “It is important we quickly get the full picture of the events which caused Carillion to enter liquidation, which is why I have asked the Insolvency Service to fast-track and broaden the scope of the Official Receiver’s investigation.
“In particular, I have asked that the investigation looks not only at the conduct of the directors at the point of its insolvency, but also of any individuals who were previously directors.
“Any evidence of misconduct will be taken very seriously.”
Mr Clark also told the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to look into Carillion’s accounts.
Auditors should face questions over their “conduct and practice”, he said.
A meeting is being held later on Tuesday between the Business Secretary and leaders of the TUC and Unite trade unions.
It comes after Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Government had questions to answer over why Carillion was awarded seven public sector contracts – after it received several profit warnings.
Image: Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has accused ministers of trying to buoy the failing company
He asked in the Commons: “When there were loud and clear worrying signs about Carillion, why, instead of intervening, did Treasury ministers collude in the strategy of drip-feeding more contracts to Carillion to buoy up an obviously failing company?”
He added: “I put it no stronger than this: at this stage there are real suspicions that the Government was too close to this company and too wedded to its privatisation role.”
Downing Street confirmed public services run by Carillion are still being provided but insisted there was “no complacency” and the situation would be “monitored”.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said no taxpayer money was being used to bail out the company. However, the cost of insolvency will be picked up by the Government.
Image: Carillion went into liquidation on Monday morning
Ministers were forced to intervene after Carillion went into liquidation on Monday morning, with 450 public sector contracts on its books.
The 200-year-old firm employed 20,000 workers across Britain before banks pulled the plug.
Contracts it received included work on the HS2 railway, construction of new schools and hospitals, the building of the Aberdeen bypass and catering contracts with both schools and the Ministry of Defence.
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Workers on public sector contracts have been told by the Government they should go to work and will still be paid.
But those employed on private sector contracts will receive no pay after Wednesday – unless other companies included on joint-venture projects step in to take them on.