The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is to fine former CEO Richard Howson and former finance directors Richard Adam and Zafar Khan as part of its investigations into failed construction and services company Carillion. The fines imposed on the trio who the FCA considers acted recklessly and were knowingly concerned in Carillion’s contraventions are, respectively, £397,800, £318,000 and £154,400.
The FCA has also imposed a public censure on Carillion, rather than a financial penalty, given the firm is insolvent and in liquidation. Were it not for Carillion’s financial circumstances, the FCA would have imposed a financial penalty of £37,910,000.
The Upper Tribunal will determine whether to uphold the FCA’s decisions against the three individuals or not and whether there are any other actions that should be taken by the FCA. The Upper Tribunal’s decision will be made public on its website following a hearing. Accordingly, the action outlined in the three individuals’ Decision Notices has no effect pending the determination of the cases by the Upper Tribunal.
The FCA considers that Carillion recklessly published announcements on 7 December 2016, 1 March 2017 and 3 May 2017 that were misleading and did not accurately or fully disclose the true financial performance of Carillion. Those announcements made misleadingly positive statements about Carillion’s financial performance generally and in relation to its UK construction business in particular. The announcements did not reflect significant deteriorations in the expected financial performance of Carillion’s UK construction business and the increasing financial risks associated with it.
In the view of the FCA, Carillion’s systems, procedures and controls were not sufficiently robust to ensure that contract accounting judgments made in its UK construction business were appropriately made, recorded and reported internally to the Board and the Audit Committee.
The FCA also considers that Howson, Adam and Khan acted recklessly and were knowingly concerned in Carillion’s contraventions. In the FCA’s view, Howson, Adam and Khan were each aware of the deteriorating expected financial performance within Carillion’s UK construction business and the increasing financial risks associated with it. They failed to ensure that those Carillion announcements for which they were responsible accurately and fully reflected these matters. Despite their awareness of these deteriorations and increasing risks, they also failed to make the Board and the Audit Committee aware of them, resulting in a lack of proper oversight.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said:
“Carillion failed to take reasonable steps to establish and maintain adequate procedures, systems and controls to enable it to comply with its obligations under the Listing Rules. As a result its true financial position remained hidden over many months and the effects of its collapse were aggravated, causing substantial harm to shareholders and creditors.
“This is market abuse, and as damaging to market integrity as insider dealing and manipulation, though not often described in this way. It should be. The FCA’s decisions on the three senior individuals whom the FCA alleges were involved in these failures will now be reviewed in the Upper Tribunal.”