Thursday 20 July 2017

Sports Council staff used official credit cards to pay personal bills

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

STAFF at the State-funded Irish Sports Council (ISC), including its chief executive John Treacy, breached the body's credit card usage policy by using official credit cards to settle personal bills.

Details emerged after credit card statements -- covering €520,000 in spending between 2003 and 2010 -- were obtained by the Irish Independent.

The records revealed how a staff credit card was used to book flights costing €5,680 to the Beijing Olympics in 2008 for the wife of the ISC's then chairman Ossie Kilkenny, even though she had no official role at the games.

The ISC said Anna Kilkenny's flight costs and all personal expenditure staff members charged to their official credit cards were later refunded.

The statements revealed how Mr Treacy, a former Olympic silver medalist, used his official credit card to pay personal hotel bills of €335 in Cardiff in February 2009 and €200 in Gateshead, England, in April 2007.

Other staff used their credit cards for personal purchases too, including hotel, flight and petrol bills. These included:

•a staff member who settled a €954 hotel bill in Galway in May 2007.

•another who bought €310 of Olympics tickets in 2006.

•a staff member who booked a €285 flight for another person.

The ISC admitted its credit card policies had been breached.

However, it said all of the money spent on personal items was later refunded and insisted "exceptional circumstances" were involved in all cases.

Ten of the ISC's 27-strong workforce have official credit cards.

Records

The records revealed that business-class flights for Mr Treacy and Mr Kilkenny to Beijing in 2008 cost over €3,900 each, while both men stayed in €490-a-night hotel rooms in the Chinese capital.

Ms Kilkenny accompanied them on the trip and stayed with her husband in the same hotel after her flights were booked using a credit card controlled by ISC finance director June Menton.

In a statement, the ISC defended the arrangement and said it paid for her flights "as a courtesy and for convenience".

The ISC said the cost of the flights was recorded in a loan account and later refunded by Mr Kilkenny.

Records showed Mr Treacy also flew to China for the Special Olympics in 2007, with his flights costing €5,680.

The credit card records also revealed significant sums spent on hospitality by ISC staff in recent years, including:

•€715 charged to Mr Treacy's card for a dinner with cricket officials in Barbados in April 2007.

•Staff nights out at a cost of €375 and €247 in 2006 and 2007.

•Unreceipted gifts costing €525 purchased in a Molloy's Liquor Store in December 2007.

•Gifts from Brown Thomas costing €490 the same month.

•€868 spent on a staff night out in May 2009.

•€590 and €124 spent at Captain America's and Leisureplex respectively on a staff night out last August.

•A staff dinner costing €338 at Johnnie Fox's pub in the Dublin Mountains last October.

•€1,149 spent on a Christmas lunch in Browne's Steakhouse in Blanchardstown last year.

Defending the spending, the ISC said credit cards were used as an efficient and appropriate method to pay suppliers and meet travel and accommodation costs.

Irish Independent

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