G4S chairman vows to re-examine business practices


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The Independent Online

The chairman of G4S insisted today that the firm’s business practices are being examined to “ensure they are fit for purpose” as he tried to tame shareholders after a series of high profile scandals at its AGM.

As campaigners backed by retired archbishop Desmond Tutu stood outside London’s Excel Centre protesting against G4S’s role in running prisons in the West Bank and Israel, former Deloitte boss and G4S chairman John Connolly went for understatement in his opening remarks.

He said the company that was barred from Government contracts after charging taxpayers for tagging offenders who were actually dead, imprisoned or did not exist, and lurched into deeper turmoil last week after its third UK chief executive in under two years departed after just seven months, had experienced “a very busy year with a number of challenges.”

Connolly added: “At this juncture last year I spoke about the difficulties we had experienced in connection with the Olympic Games contract and the actions we had taken and changes we had made in the light of that experience. Since then we have had to deal with more problems  with contracts.”

He claimed that “very detailed and careful investigations have been conducted into the circumstances which led to the overcharging  taking place.”

Repaying the Government  £108.9 million was one reason G4S slumped to a £170 million pre-tax loss for 2013 — down from a  £158 million profit  12 months earlier.

“Across the group, the business processes which are used are being updated to ensure they are fit for purpose,” Connolly added. “Specialist risk managers have been employed to ensure the group can better manage the sometimes difficult and dangerous work in which it is engaged.”

He concluded: “We have undergone some difficult times in the last couple of years, but [we] are working hard to put in place strong foundations so that the company can produce sustainable, profitable growth in the future.”