The government will ban the four executives who oversaw the collapse of MG Rover from ever running a company again.
An 850-page report released today says the executives, known as the Phoenix Four, took £42 million out of the company in pay and in pensions. They bought the company for just £10 from BMW in 2000, but it collapsed five years later.
Business secretary Lord Mandelson is believed to have taken legal advice about the four and will seek to have them banned from being directors of a private or public company for a fixed number of years.
John Towers, the former MG Rover chairman, Nick Stephenson, ex vice-chairman, Peter Beale and John Edwards received about £9 million. Their chief executive, Kevin Howe, is said to have taken £5.7m.
It collapsed with the loss of 6000 jobs, and amid claims that the car manufacturer was nursing a £400m black hole in its accounts and recriminations that the four businessmen had squandered a £100m sum left to them when BMW sold the company.
The men described the report as a "witchhunt" and a "whitewash for the government".
"Our remuneration was not the reason for the collapse,” they said in a statement. “The real reason is the government bungled the last chance to save MG Rover.”