Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Collapsed firm's gemstone found

Wrekin Construction offices
Some staff have been kept on to wind down the business

A gemstone believed to be worth millions of pounds, which belonged to a collapsed construction firm, has been collected by administrators.

Wrekin Construction, based in Shifnal, Shropshire, went into administration last week with the loss of 420 jobs.

Afterwards it emerged the company had a ruby listed as an 11m asset.

Adminstrators Ernst and Young said it had "taken possession of the gemstone reported to be the Gem of Tanzania" which would be kept in secure storage.

Ernst and Young, which has not commented on the ruby's value, said the stone would be retained while administrators' inquiries continued.

"Until their inquires are complete they have no further comment to make," he added.

Hundreds of former Wrekin Construction workers held a protest on Monday and said they were angry at what had happened to the company.

Workers' protest

One also likened the firm's acquisition of the gemstone to something "out of a Disney film".

End of year accounts show that in 2007 the company exchanged 11m worth of shares for the ruby.

The accounts state that: "The fair value of the ruby gemstone was determined by a professional valuer at the Instituti Gemmologico Italiano based in Valenza, Italy, on 31 August 2007."

Wrekin has blamed Royal Bank of Scotland for its collapse because the bank would not extend credit to cover cash flow problems.

The redundancies are at bases in Shropshire, Yorkshire, Northamptonshire and Cheshire.

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