Cork ETB probes financial irregularities at school

Cork ETB probes financial irregularities at school

An investigation by the Cork Education and Training Board is continuing into whether there were financial irregularities at a school.

The Cork ETB Financial Statements for 2018, laid before the Oireachtas, also reveals that Cork ETB did not comply with public procurement guidelines in spending €2m on different services during 2018.

The report includes a statement on internal control signed off by chairman Patrick Gerard Murphy, a Fianna Fáil councillor, that states:

“During the initial phase of the 2018 audit, weaknesses in relation to control over receipts including cash and cheques were identified in a school. A follow-up review by Cork ETB gave rise to concerns regarding financial irregularities and a decision was taken on April 5 to conduct an investigation under the ETB’s anti-fraud and corruption policy.”

It said that on completion of that probe, Cork ETB would make reports to the relevant authorities and review cash controls in schools.

“The matter was reported to An Garda Siochána, who confirmed to Cork ETB that they will await an update on the conclusion of the investigation.”

Yesterday, Cork ETB said: “The internal procedures in respect of the audit report regarding the school have not yet concluded, therefore we are not in a position to give an update at this time.”

That report also outlines expenditure totalling €2m as being identified as non-compliant last year, including €280,000 for school meals and security services, €507,000 relating to bus hire across all schools and centres, €105,000 relating to the rollover contract for PR, advertising, and marketing, €993,000 relating to printing, school, and office equipment, cleaning, managed print services, agency staff, fire equipment, electrical and engineering course materials, and IT services, and €102,000 relating to completion of re-roofing works.

In all cases, Cork ETB provided additional data and said it will continue to monitor and review all areas of expenditure to identify opportunities to achieve compliance and best value for money.

A note from the Comptroller and Auditor General refers to the “significant expenditure where the procedures followed did not comply with public procurement guidelines”.

The report also shows there were 22,268 participants across Cork ETB courses last year. It spent over €190m and had committed to €15m-worth of projects.

Responding to the concerns, a Cork ETB spokesman said €2m was just 6.5% of the €30.66m of its budget that is subject to procurement guidelines and that it was making headway in addressing those issues.

“Cork ETB put a corporate procurement plan in place for 2018-2019, setting out a schedule to address the identified aggregated and other procurement requirements, to move towards meeting procurement thresholds,” said the spokesman.

“Implementation of this plan continues to progress.”

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