MILFORD Haven Port Authority has “glossed over” the money owed to Pembrokeshire businesses by Mustang Marine, south Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart has told the Western Telegraph.
The Pembroke Dock-based boat building and ship repair company entered administration with the loss of 66 jobs last Monday (March 3).
Last week the Western Telegraph revealed Mustang Marine owed more than £1.5m in early January, including at least £330,000 to Pembrokeshire businesses. One Pembrokeshire business owed nearly £70,000 at that time.
Questions have been asked over whether the Port – as a 50% shareholder - has an obligation to Pembrokeshire creditors.
An extract from the Port’s accounts shows Mustang Marine was listed as a subsidiary company for the year ended 31 December 2012.
But on Tuesday the Port’s chief executive, Alec Don, said the Port “remains a separate corporate entity to Mustang Marine” and was “not liable for Mustang’s debts”.
He added: “As a Trust Port we continually look to invest in growth and economic activity in the Port. On this basis, and in good faith, the Port of Milford Haven invested in Mustang Marine.
“The company approached us with a firm business plan and orders that required our support and investment to achieve.
“Any investment we make has to be balanced with our central commitment to keep the UK’s largest energy port operating efficiently, and safe for everyone who uses the waterway.”
Mr Don said the Port’s priority is getting “new and sustainable businesses established as quickly as possible”.
Mr Hart said: “The fact that Pembrokeshire companies are owed well over £500,000 seems to have been glossed over.
“They cannot talk about growth and activity on the one hand and then refuse to even consider the plight of local people left out of pocket on the other.
“These people undertook work for Mustang as they felt comfortable that the company was part of a larger trading operation of which the Port was a central part.”
A special event to help former employees of Mustang Marine find new jobs will be held at the Bridge Innovation Centre, Pembroke Dock, on Thursday, March 20, from 10am to noon.
Five former Mustang Marine employees are due to start work at Mainport Engineering, Pembroke Dock, next Monday (March 17).