Accounts reveal Greyhound board did not properly tender for some contracts

For the first time the Irish Greyhound Board (IGB) has admitted it broke spending rules and did not properly tender for a number of different contracts.

It has also revealed its continuing debt problems mean it needs each of its tracks to perform better and the Government to keep giving it €11m a year if it is to stay in business beyond 2016.

The details were revealed in its accounts for 2011, whose publication had been delayed because of issues raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).

In the financial statements the company chairman, Phil Meaney, and the C&AG, Seamus McCarthy, reported on its failures to follow the rules.

The Irish Examiner previously revealed how a €5m shortfall had emerged because of a series of ill-fated informal arrangements set up with private parties involved in the development of its new Limerick stadium.

The IGB had originally denied it broke the rules. However, in the accounts Mr Meaney accepted there had been failures.

“The audit revealed a number of instances where goods and services had not been tendered for,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said there had been non-compliance with procurement guidelines and control weaknesses.

The Public Accounts Committee has demanded reports from the Department of Agriculture and the IGB on these matters.

Problems associated with the Limerick development have been a key factor in the financial difficulties.

In 2011 its debt burden rose by €1.5m to €22.7m, edging closer to its €25m limit set by AIB and the Department.

The IGB has now revealed all of this loan is on an interest-only basis until December 2016.

The company had to include a note to explain how it could continue to trade once the principal of the loans had to be paid off.

Its plan assumes that operating surpluses would increase each year because the Government would continue to supply an €11m grant annually and turnover from its racing facilities would rise.

Turnover fell in 2011 and it is understood to have slipped further in 2012.

Much of the firm’s debt was built up because its decision to build a stadium and headquarters in Limerick, which opened in 2010.

This project was underpinned by a doomed gentleman’s agreement and its cost was expected to be offset with €10.8m generated from the sale of three key sites around the city.

The 2011 accounts show one of the properties was sold for €1.5m (a €934,000 loss) and the remaining two properties have been written down in value to €1.5m.

Despite the precarious position facing the company, in 2011 there was a 35% increase in the expenses claimed by members of its board, rising to €71,273 for its seven directors.

Previously the IGB has refused to release the expenses details for its chairman, Mr Meaney, claiming it would affect his commercial interest. This Freedom of Information case is before the Information Commissioner.

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