Auditors from KPMG have questioned evidence given by a former Carillion boss that the failed construction giant was owed £200M for work in the Middle East.
KPMG audit partner Peter Meehan told the joint Business and Work and Pensions select committee inquiry that he believed the figure owed to the failed construction firm for work on the Msheirib Downtown development in Qatar was “considerably” lower than the amount quoted by former chief executive Richard Howson.
“What I do know is the balance that was recoverable in the balance sheet at 31 December 2016, was considerably less than the number he was quoting”, Meehan told MPs this morning.
He added that the Qatari contract was not the cause of the firm’s failure. When asked whether the project had been a major problem Meehan said: “The simple answer is no. I can’t see how that was the cause [of the collapse] in itself at all.”
Howson told the joint parliamentary inquiry earlier this month that a £200M debt for work on the project had been a major factor in pushing the company to collapse.
He said that “working in the Middle East is very different from working anywhere else in the world.” He revealed that he had made almost monthly trips to Qatar for years in an attempt to recoup the money, adding: “I felt like a bailiff just to try and collect the cash.”
The Qatari client Msheireb Properties has denied the allegations that it withheld payment and said it is exploring “all legal options”. Meehan told the inquiry today that the relationship between Carillion and Msherib Properties “went very sour” in April last year.