The Qatari client of bust Carillion has accused Carillion’s former bosses of misleading UK MPs this week in saying they were owed £200m on a major contract in Doha, and hadn’t been paid for 18 months when the company went into liquidation in January.
Developer of the $5.5bn Msheireb Downtown redevelopment in Doha (pictured), Msheireb Properties said it "disputes the claims made by Carillion executives during the House of Commons select committee", newspaper The Guardian reports.
Msheireb further claimed it had paid Carillion, but Carillion kept the cash from subcontractors.
"Despite ongoing project delay, Msheireb Properties continued to pay Carillion," a spokesperson told The Guardian, "however, Carillion did not pass these funds on to its supply chain, leaving over 40 subcontractors unpaid."
"This resulted in Msheireb Properties absorbing significant additional costs as we were forced to pay Carillion’s supply chain directly and engage a third-party contractor to ensure that Carillion’s original project was delivered," the Msheireb spokesperson added.
Sacked Carillion chief executive Richard Howson told a parliamentary inquiry on 6 February that he "felt like a bailiff" after going to Doha more than 60 times over six years to plead for payment, to no avail.
Howson complained of a chaotic client who changed architects three times, issued thousands of design changes, and ended up owing Carillion around £200m – one of the main causes of its liquidation on 15 January.
The newspaper said it could not reach Howson for comment on Wednesday but a former Carillion source said that the Qatar contract was the subject of a commercial dispute, with each side claiming to be owed money by the other.
Carillion’s former interim chief executive Keith Cochrane also claimed Carillion hadn’t been paid.
Cochrane, who stepped into Howson’s role in July 2017, sparked ire from the MPs’ committee co-chair for what was construed as a complacent response to Carillion’s handling of the project.
"This is a job that doubled in size, [had] two and a half thousand design variations to it, and essentially we weren’t paid for 18 months prior to the business failing," he told MPs. "Should we have done something differently about that? I think that’s a fair question to ask."
That prompted an incredulous response from co-chair Rachel Reeves, who shot back: "It’s not just a fair question, Mr. Cochrane, if you weren’t paid for 18 months … why did you carry on doing the work? Should you not have put an impairment in, should you have not accounted for this much sooner?"
Image: Artist’s render of the $5.5bn Msheireb Downtown redevelopment in Doha, Qatar (Qatar Foundation)