BBC News, 8 May 2011
The Directors who ran MG Rover Group Limited when the company collapsed have been disqualified as Directors. Peter Beale, Nick Stephenson, John Edwards and John Towers – known as the Phoenix Four – have voluntarily agreed to individual bans of between three and six years.
The disqualifications by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, follow a ‘lengthy and complex investigation’ into MG’s collapse. The men said they do not accept any allegations of wrong-doing.
The Directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings Limited bought MG Rover, in Birmingham, for £10 in 2000 and paid themselves £40m in pay and pensions.
MG Rover collapsed in 2005 with debts of £1.3bn and with the loss of 6,000 jobs. Its then Directors were widely accused of enriching themselves whilst mismanaging the company. This view was supported in an independent report in 2009.
The former Directors of Phoenix Venture Holdings (PVH) and MG Rover Group have now agreed not to hold any company directorships for up to six years. A spokesman for the consortium said the former Directors, who have never faced criminal charges, had done nothing wrong.
He said they had voluntarily agreed to the ban: ‘As they have already made it clear that they have no intention of holding company office in the UK, they have agreed to a voluntary compromise, while emphatically not accepting any allegations or suggestions of wrong-doing.
‘The former Directors point out that they have done nothing which justifies disqualification. All of the many inquiries into the collapse of MG Rover have achieved little other than a series of massive bills.’
The four resigned as Directors of PVH and its associated companies in March.
Six years after MG Rover collapsed into administration, perhaps this voluntary disbarment of its former owners is the best the current Business Secretary could achieve in terms of a public scalping.
His predecessor, Lord Mandelson, was unable even to get a formal apology from the Phoenix Four who took over a dying company but managed to pocket £42m in pay and pension benefits in MG Rover last 5 years.
The Serious Fraud Office dismissed the notion of criminal charges against the quartet in 2009 and the Insolvency Office, which had threatened them with an involuntary ban of being company directors, might well have lost another long and expensive case against the Four.
That’s why a public (and temporary) rap on the knuckles is all they get, which will hardly trouble them in their well remunerated semi-retirement.
[Source: BBC News]
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