Solid Energy, the state owned coal mining enterprise currently facing financial peril, continues to blame its collapse on 24 year old junior accounting intern, David Fairbrother.
Last month the company caused a great deal of public concern when it reported an astonishing loss that expanded its total debt to $389 million, a development that management describes as “all David’s fault.”
Former Solid Energy boss Don Elder was grilled by a number of MPs before Parliament’s commerce select committee last week, at which time he explained that Solid Energy had been hit by the “perfect storm” of international economic circumstances and David’s sheer incompetence.
“In the second half of 2012, last year, the coal industry around the world received a stunning blow from an unprecedented collapse of international coal prices, and also from David’s inability to manage the long-term strategic planning of the company’s investments” said Elder.
“Unlike the previous downturns, from 1999 and 2008, we were in the extremely difficult position of having hired David, an inexperienced intern whose utter lack of skill – perhaps coupled with some malicious intent – brought down our entire financial operation.”
Solid Energy’s recorded losses were, in part, due to a large number of poorly handled overseas investments in non-coal, renewable resources; investments which the company insists were “all David’s idea.”
Labour has accused the National government of contributing to Solid Energy’s downfall by encouraging the state owned enterprise to take on more debt. The government rejects that accusation, and is standing by the company’s story that its loss was caused by some adverse economic headwinds, “but mostly David.”
“Well I can’t say that we were unaware of their situation” said State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall. “We pressured the board numerous times to fire David. They didn’t, and you know, to an extent, that’s on them.”
David, who was not invited to speak to the select committee last week, was interviewed this morning by Rachel Smalley on TV3’s Firstline.
“Is it true?” asked Smalley, to which David quietly nodded. “Is it true that you single-handedly dismantled the financial stability of the company by incurring all that debt?”
“Yes” he said.
Sources close to the situation report that Solid Energy has privately promised David “a really good reference.”