SFO satisfied with MG Rover dealings

Posted on 11 Aug 2009 by The Manufacturer

There is to be no criminal investigation into the 2005 collapse of the former British automotive manufacturer MG Rover, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has announced.

Peter Mandelson tasked the SFO last month with ascertaining whether the former directors of the company – dubbed ‘the Phoenix Four’ – should face criminal charges over claims relating to dividends they took out of the company while it was on the brink of collapse.

They have always strenuously denied any corrupt behaviour.

In June this year a team of independent inspectors appointed by the Department of Trade and Industry produced a report containing their findings from their study into the firm’s failing. This was finally passed to government over four years after MG Rover ceased trading in April, 2005. Mandelson then handed it on to the SFO.
An SFO press release today reads:

“Following the DBIS referral a small team of SFO investigators studied the report and made recommendations to the SFO’s Director, Richard Alderman. He read the recommendations, read the report itself and took advice from the SFO General Counsel, Vivian Robinson, QC, and an external opinion also from eminent lawyer, Clare Montgomery QC. The Director then made the decision not to initiate a criminal investigation.”

The SFO said that as the inspectors’ report has not been made public, it cannot detail the reasons for its decision not to seek any prosecution.

Mandelson was criticised in some quarters for his decision to engage the SFO in the matter, with some suggesting he was attempting to ‘pass the buck’ of MP’s expenses over to corporate directors by trying to attribute them with the ‘fat cat’ label in the public eye. You can read a blog on this matter by The Manufacturer reporter Edward Machin by clicking here.