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

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - GRA­HAM HUBAND BUSI­NESS ED­I­TOR ghuband@the­courier.co.uk

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 “

Pic­ture: Kim Cess­ford.

Muir­field’s for­mer head­quar­ters at Cam­per­down In­dus­trial Park, Dundee.

John Sto­dart

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