Ernst & Young’s point man on the Metronet administration has been put
under the spotlight by government transport watchdogs.
Within the last few hours Alan Bloom was subjected to an avalanche of tough
questioning by the Commons’ Transport Committee.
He disclosed that without backing from Metronet’s bankers, the troubled
Underground maintainer was costing ‘£13m a week’ to run.
The assembly grilled Metronet’s former chairman Graham Pimlott on the
‘serious black hole in [its] finances’ and London Underground’s managing
director Tim O’Toole before turning their attentions to Bloom.
O’Toole gave a tacit criticism of the finance function at Metronet. He said
that LU had found it difficult to gauge the situation at Metronet after bringing
in outside auditors to probe the company in 2006, because the beleaguered
company ‘did not know what the numbers were’ itself.
In the face of intense scrutiny from the panel, Bloom refused to disclose
information relating to the value that had been put on the ailing company by
advisers Rothschild. ‘It’s very confidential, he said.
When asked if he could put a back-of envelope figure on the cost of
Metronet’s failure for London taxpayers, Bloom said: ‘No.’
The £13m figure excludes the debt on work that Metronet is yet to carry out,
meaning further costs for its prospective new owners at Transport for London. On
the level of debt relating to work pending O’Toole added: ‘We’re struggling with
that. Our source of info is Metronet and we’ve learnt not to rely on that.’
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