Questions were raised last night about the solvency of John Towers' Phoenix Venture Holdings - parent company of crashed carmaker MG Rover - and its ability ultimately to transfer assets to a trust fund set up for ex-Longbridge workers and their families.

Long-awaited PVH accounts for 2004 show that the company risks being wiped out by any one of a number of potential multi-million claims against it.

It had only about #3 million left in its reserves.

At best, its assets could be severely eroded by legal wrangles that could rumble on for years, automotive industry insiders pointed out.

The accounts, lodged at Companies House yesterday after being signed off by Mr Towers and his three co-directors, came with a devastating disclaimer by PVH's auditor, Deloitte.

Deloitte, which is being investigated by accountancy regulators over its auditing of PVH's books in the years prior to last year's collapse of its manufacturing operations with the loss of some 6,000 jobs and liabilities of #1.4 billion, qualified the 2004 accounts to a degree said to be "rare".

The reason for the disclaimer was said to be because Deloitte did not have access to the financial records of the 19 subsidiary companies that went into administration last April and therefore could not produce a consolidated set of accounts for the entire group.

But neither was it able to produce consolidated accounts for PVH and its eight directly linked subsidiaries which also escaped administration but which are dormant.

Those accounts have been lodged separately at Companies House.

Deloitte said: "The directors of the company (PVH) have not complied with the requirements of Financial Reporting Standard 2 and the Companies Act 1985 for parent undertakings to prepare group financial statements.

"In view of this failure, in our opinion, a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the group as at 31 December 2004 and of the loss of the group for the year then ended has not been given."

In words rarely seen in the accounts of such a high profile company, Deloitte goes on to say: "We have not obtained all the information and explanations that we considered necessary for the purpose of audit; and we were unable to determine whether proper accounting records have been kept by the company."

PVH directors say in the state-ment that they do not think a report consolidating its finances with those of its eight non-dormant subsidiaries would provide "useful information".

"As a consequence, the company has not incurred the cost of such consolidation that would have otherwise ultimately have reduced the amount available to the Long-bridge trust."

As The Birmingham Post reported earlier this week, the bottom line for PVH was that a 2003 profit of #18.8 million turned into a #41.3 million loss in 2004.

The #60 million financial swing was due to provisioning made to offset a large number of potential claims that PVH could ultimately have to meet.

These include possible multi-million pound settlements of claims by creditors such as SAIC, the Chinese company that effectively pulled the plug on MG Rover when it abandoned a joint venture to design, develop and manufacture a new generation of cars.

Other potential blows include #1.7 million for inheritance tax liabilities related to the controversial PVH directors' pension fund and claims for offset corporation tax incurred by MG Rover and its subsidiaries.

After studying the accounts, one expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Post: "This holds no comfort for any creditor of PVH or for anyone hoping to receive money from the Longbridge trust fund.

"There is a long list of potential claims, any one of which could sink PVH.

"It has to be asked whether the company is, in fact, solvent."

A PVH spokesman, who said the Deloite disclaimer was a "technicality", insisted the company was solvent and would ultimately be able to transfer significant sums into the trust fund on wind-up.