Saturday 20 January 2018

Bord na Mona subsidiary probed over amounts spent on machinery

John Mulligan

Bord na Mona drafted in consultants to probe allegations that one of its subsidiaries paid over the odds for machinery, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Business consultancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) was asked by the semi-state company to investigate the buying process for the purchase of certain types of machinery at the company.

Letters and invoices seen by the Irish Independent claim that the subsidiary had failed to secure value for money and in some instances was paying nearly 50pc more for items of machinery costing tens of thousands of euro, ultimately leaving the taxpayer out of pocket.

The claims were made in a letter sent to senior Bord na Mona executives including chief executive Gabriel D'Arcy.

They were also sent to Bord na Mona's head of group procurement, Declan McDonnell -- who is not accused of any wrongdoing -- and Pat Rabbitte, Energy and Natural Resources Minister. Bord na Mona comes under his department's remit.

The letters and invoices -- sent anonymously -- also claim a supplier's relationship with the Bord na Mona subsidiary was too close from a professional point of view.

Allegations

Bord na Mona hired PWC to investigate the claims and to interview the individuals who had been named in the allegations, as well as other members of the group.

While the report has yet to be presented to key executives at the semi-state, it is understood that PWC -- which also acts as external auditor to the semi-state group -- detected nothing of significance and has not uncovered any issue in the group's system controls or procedures that would require urgent attention.

The seriousness of the allegations, however, are likely to unnerve Bord na Mona management at a time when there is close scrutiny of expenditure.

In its last financial year, Bord na Mona incurred €48m in capital expenditure costs, down from €56.1m the year before. It paid a €3.5m dividend to the Government, compared to €5.2m a year earlier.

While senior management at Bord na Mona will be given a presentation by PWC next Monday, it's believed the report will also be presented to the semi-state's risk and audit committee in the second week of October.

That committee -- which oversees internal accounting controls and other financial functions -- is headed by Bord na Mona director Peter Wyer.

Bord na Mona operates a number of divisions here and in the UK involved in a diverse range of activities such as power generation, waste management, oil distribution, and horticulture.

Irish Independent

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