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Scandal arose from breaches of travel rules

IT was the revelation that €643,000 was forked out on travel to the US in the space of just four years which blew the FAS spending scandal wide open.

Now it has emerged that a considerable amount of that money was spent in breach of the agency's foreign travel procedures. The procedures stated that flights should be booked through FAS's designated travel officer, with approval from an assistant director general.

However, a recently completed internal audit found the regulations were regularly flouted -- and staff bypassed the agency's travel officer when organising foreign trips.

The audit found instances where, although approval was given at lower levels, it was not authorised by an assistant director general. It also found that the accounts department didn't insist on properly authorised requisition forms being attached to invoices before they were paid.

FAS said last night that foreign travel had been curtailed.

"All foreign travel must now be approved in advance by the Director General," it said.

Irish Independent