THE National Gallery of Ireland paid €40,000 to its new director to cover the cost of his relocation from Germany – without the permission of the relevant state department.
National Gallery director Sean Rainbird's salary of €99,236 had been approved by the Department of Public Expenditure on the strict condition that no additional benefits or bonuses be paid.
But the National Gallery went ahead and gave Mr Rainbird an allowance of €40,000 for "removal expenses" while he moved back from Germany.
He had been working there since 2006 as the director of the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. It paid for Mr Rainbird's expenses from non-state funding that it had available to it.
The state spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), said that the expenses payments did not comply with the sanction issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
However, the National Gallery chairwoman Olive Braiden defended its actions, saying that it had paid a reasonable level of relocation expenses to ensure that an overseas candidate would not be "worse off" during the five-year contract for the job.
She also said the property market along with the "dysfunctional nature of the banking system" made family relocation unattractive for a senior professional.
So far, Mr Rainbird has supplied vouchers worth €3,700 in return for the €40,000 expenses payment, which did not include tax according to the report by CAG.
But after getting tax advice, the National Gallery decided that it should include the potential tax cost and increased the cost of the expenses to €87,454 for tax purposes. It is covering this additional cost from its own resources.
The CAG's report also found that the National Gallery had to pay €439,932 in lost wages, compensation and legal costs to re-hire six security staff who it had previously made redundant.
They had been employed on fixed-term contracts over a nine-year period.