Criminal probe call as former Muirfield chief banned as a director
Cash from failing building firm used by ex chairman to place deposits on property in United Arab Emirates
Union leaders have called for former Muirfield Contracts chairman John Stodart to face criminal proceedings after he used cash from the ailing group to buy luxury property in Dubai.
More than 280 workers lost their jobs when the contractor collapsed in 2015.
The Insolvency Service has now disqualified Stodart as a director for a period of nine years following a probe lasting more than two years.
They found Stodart had caused Muirfield to make payments totalling £883,281 to a holding company of which he was sole director and a connected company when he should have been aware the firm was unable to pay its bills.
The money was siphoned from the business in four payments made between February 10 and the date of the company’s administration on March 12.
The Insolvency Service said Stodart’s actions meant the funds were not “readily realisable for the benefit of Muirfield’s creditors and were at a risk of total loss of funds”.
Between February 4 and March 4 2015, summaries of Muirfield’s position were emailed to Stodart by the group’s finance and administrative manager detailing outstanding liabilities.
Communications sent between February 9 and February 13 detailed company liabilities of almost £5 million, of which £1.98m was overdue payment.
In their disqualification notice, the Insolvency Service states: “As the sole director of the holding company he (Stodart) was aware that Muirfield was its sole source of income in this period and was in financial trouble, that the monies would be utilised by the holding company largely for deposit payments on residential property in the UAE and in the absence of completion funds were at a significant risk of being lost entirely.”
Muirfield had traded successfully for more than 20 years before being taken over by Azure Investments in 2013.
When the business was placed in administration two years later it had accumulated multi-million debts.
Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary of Unite the Union, slammed Stodart.
“The decision to disqualify Mr Stodart as a director for a period of nine years should be the first step in a number of steps to secure justice for the former workforce at Muirfield,” he said.
“It is sickening to be made aware of the actions of a director of a company in financial difficulty siphoning off almost £900,000 to an offshore account before the company went into liquidation to ensure his own lavish lifestyle.
“Measures should be taken to recover this sum of money and, if possible, for it to be awarded to former employees alongside exploring the options of criminal proceedings against this individual.”
The Courier contacted Stodart last night but he did not comment.
Measures should be taken to recover this sum of money and, if possible, for it to be awarded to former employees “
Muirfield’s former headquarters at Camperdown Industrial Park, Dundee.