Thomas Cook bosses to face British MPs

Former Thomas Cook executives are set to be dragged in front of British MPs after a group of influential politicians launched an inquiry into the travel business's collapse.

The parliamentary Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee says it plans to question former chief executive Peter Fankhauser and other board members over their stewardship of the firm.

Chair Rachel Reeves says the committee will focus on bosses' bonuses, accounting practices and the role of auditors, along with the impact of the collapse on small firms and suppliers.

"Amid the frustration of holidaymakers and the misery of thousands of staff losing their jobs, the collapse of Thomas Cook has uncovered what appears to be a sorry tale of corporate greed, raising serious questions about the actions of Thomas Cook's bosses and their stewardship of the business," she said.

"This latest corporate failure has shone a light once again on the use of aggressive accounting methods to aid bumper payouts to company executives and the apparent inability of auditors and regulators to curb these practices in the wider interests of shareholders, investors and the public."

Questions have been raised over the accounting practices at Thomas Cook since its collapse on Monday.

Auditors had already warned bosses they were overusing one-off payments on the balance sheet to inflate profits.

Firms are allowed to exclude one-off costs when reporting profits - these are known as underlying profits - but Thomas Cook is accused of placing regular costs in the one-off column.

Sources close to Thomas Cook said the directors were looking forward to fronting the committee.

"Directors will welcome the opportunity to set the record straight and demonstrate that their conduct was always in the best interests of Thomas Cook's customers, employees and stakeholders," they said.

Fankhauser pocketed STG8.3 million ($A15.2 million) in pay and perks between 2014 and 2018 - including a mammoth STG2.9m ($A5.3m) shares bonus in 2015.

Between them, top executives shared more than STG16m ($A29m) in pay, benefits and bonuses over the past five years while the group's profits were in sharp decline.

But STG4.1m ($A7.5m) of Fankhauser's pay was in shares, which are now worthless.



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