Former directors of Thomas Cook will face questions from MPs next week about their pay and stewardship of the company , as an inquiry into the tour operator’s dramatic implosion gets under way.
Five executives who were at Thomas Cook when it failed, including the chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, will appear in the first evidence session before the business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) select committee on Tuesday.
The committee, chaired by the Labour MP Rachel Reeves, is expected to focus on executive pay levels, corporate governance, the firm’s high debts and the role of its auditors.
The head of Thomas Cook’s remuneration committee, Warren Tucker, who is also a non-executive director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is likely to face questions about the company’s pay policies.
The three chief executives who were at the helm of the tour operator in the 12 years leading up to its collapse have attracted criticism for accepting pay packets worth a combined £35m.
Fankhauser’s predecessors, Harriet Green and Manny Fontenla-Novoa, who were paid nearly £28m between them over seven years, will appear at future evidence sessions.
EY, Thomas Cook’s auditor at the time of its collapse, and PwC, its auditor until 2017, will give evidence, as will the Financial Reporting Council and the government’s Insolvency Service, which is managing the company’s liquidation. Manuel Cortes, the general secretary of the transport workers’ union TSSA, will also take part in the inquiry.
Thomas Cook collapsed under the weight of its debts last month in one of the most high-profile corporate failures in UK history.
Its demise put 9,000 jobs at risk and left 150,000 British holidaymakers stranded overseas, triggering a repatriation effort expected to cost more than £100m.
MPs are also expected to examine the failed attempts to devise a plan to keep Thomas Cook afloat.
The government has faced criticism for refusing to offer financial support as investors and executives scrambled to put a financial rescue together. Ministers have said a taxpayer-funded bailout would have been throwing good money after bad.
Earlier this week, Hays Travel vowed to save 2,500 jobs after agreeing to buy Thomas Cook’s 555 high street agencies.