BusinessCompany NewsEx-Severn Trent FD hits back at dishonesty claims

Ex-Severn Trent FD hits back at dishonesty claims

Former executives of the water firm were given no opportunity to defend themselves against claims made by the SFO, says ex-FD

The former group finance director of Severn Trent has hit back at the Serious
Fraud Office over claims he and his colleagues deliberately misled Ofwat about
the company’s water leakage.

Mark Wilson, who was named in court proceedings as one of several
ex-employees who dishonestly reported leakage figures, said he had been given no
opportunity to defend himself from such claims.

‘Throughout this case, the SFO made a number of claims of dishonesty against
Severn Trent; but from the start none of these allegations were ever put to me
and had they done so, I would have responded very robustly and had it ever gone
to court, denied any culpability,’ said Wilson.

The SFO prosecuted Severn Trent Water for providing incorrect water leakage
figures during 2001 and 2002. However, although the prosecution told the court
former executives, including Wilson, lied about leakage figures, no charges were
brought against any individual.

Wilson said that as he had no status in the proceedings, he had no
opportunity to present his side of the story, and as such the court had heard a
version of events that was ‘highly selective in its facts’.

Wilson, who left Severn Trent in July 2005, maintains that he had fully
cooperated with all previous investigations and that he continues to believe
that Ofwat were reasonably informed of the difficulties the company was
experiencing with its leakage calculations.

Severn Trent was fined £2m pounds and ordered to pay court costs of £220,000
by Judge Jeremy Roberts QC at the Old Bailey yesterday.

Ofwat today confirmed it will also fine the company an additional £35.8m for
separate offences relating to misreporting customer information.

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