Greyhound board 'conned' on €750k sponsorship deal
The Irish Greyhound Board failed to do any due diligence on a company who breached an agreement to sponsor its most prestigious race.
A senior executive at the board admitted there was "an element of being conned" in its dealings with a British finance company which pledged to provide €750,000 in sponsorship over three years for the Irish Derby.
The deal, signed off by former IGB chief executive Adrian Nealon in 2013, quickly unravelled after the firm, Enterprise Target Solutions (ETS), failed to honour an agreement to provide €120,000 pledged for that year's derby.
The Dail Public Accounts Committee heard some payments were made, but the IGB was left with a €71,000 shortfall. It terminated the contract when the company failed to pay the balance due.
It later emerged ETS was only registered in the UK a month before the sponsorship deal was struck and never did any meaningful business in Ireland. It was dissolved last year, having never filed accounts.
Questioned by Fine Gael TD John Deasy, IGB chief financial officer Michael Murnane admitted no checks were done on the company prior to the sponsorship deal being agreed.
"This company wasn't checked out before it was signed," said Mr Murnane.
He said the firm had told the IGB it was a new business involved in investing in alternative energies.
Mr Murnane said it had been unable to sue the company for the outstanding cash as it had been dissolved.
Mr Deasy said: "It seems to me there was an element of being conned here. Is that fair enough?"
Mr Murnane replied: "That's fair enough."
IGB chairman Phil Meaney told the committee it had been struggling to secure sponsorship at the time.
Meanwhile, the committee heard the IGB had recently settled three court actions.
However, its chief executive Geraldine Larkin said the sums involved could not be disclosed as the terms of the settlements were confidential.
Two of the cases related to the running of the Irish Derby in 2010. The third was taken by a trainer against a board member, and a settlement is currently being finalised.
Mr Meaney said the third case involved "a six-figure sum".