I felt mugged over €4m Uganda aid, says official

The secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs said he felt “mugged” over the misappropriation of €4m of Irish taxpayers’ money in Uganda.

He is to meet Irish ambassadors in February to ensure similar controversy cannot happen elsewhere.

David Cooney told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee he was “put-ting my hands up” over the Ugandan situation.

Mr Cooney said he was seeking to appoint a chief financial officer and Brendan Rogers, director general of the development co-operation directorate at Irish Aid, said there was a “skills shortage” when it came to accounting and finance in the department.

The Uganda money is being returned and several people have been arrested following involvement in a a fraud Mr Cooney said involved “high levels of collusion at senior level”.

“We ... maybe were not as alert to this kind of fraud as we should have been and certainly will be in future. It [the money] was not transferred into the account that it should have been and frankly that should not have happened. We should have tracked it through to its destination.”

Irish ambassadors have been told of the need to check similar problems have not occurred and Mr Cooney said he was checking the responses.

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