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Published on Monday, September 23, 2019

Government to fast-track Thomas Cook investigation

The Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has said she will write to the Insolvency Service to ask it to 'fast-track' its investigation into the circumstances surrounding Thomas Cook going into liquidation.

The probe will also consider the conduct of the directors, the Government said.

There has been criticism over the huge bonuses paid to Thomas Cook executives over the past few years, with some, including Labour's Shadow Chancellor, calling for them to pay back some of the money.

Chief executive Peter Fankhauser earned over £8 million over the last five years, including a £2.9 million bonus in 2015.

The Daily Telegraph reports chief financial officers Michael Healy, and Bill Scott who started at the beginning of last year, have together been paid around £7 million since 2014.

More than £4 million was paid in this time to the non-executive directors, including Belgian chairman Frank Meysman, who has taken home £1.6m.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell insisted executives should have to repay some money if there was evidence of mismanagement.

He said: "If this was in the banking sector, we have legitimate practices to deal with these situations."

A Cabinet spokesman said: "People will rightly look at the size of bonuses to some of the directors and have serious concerns.

"There's a broader issue at play about collapsing firms and director pay and we are looking that more broadly as a government."

Fankhauser told the BBC this morning: "I want to apologise to my colleagues who I know will be heart-broken. We all fought so hard to make Thomas Cook a success."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Guardian it was time to 'reflect on whether the directors of these companies are properly incentivised to sort such matters out'.

He said: "I do think that we need to look at ways in which tour operators, one way or another, can protect themselves from such bankruptcies in future. And clearly the systems that we have in place to make sure that companies like Monarch or Thomas Cook don't in the end come to the taxpayer for help, one way or the other, the state will have to step in to help stranded holidaymakers."

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