Has anything changed since revelations of €400k spending spree?

THE relighting of the Fás scandal touch-paper comes after the full scale of the expenses claims made by just one senior member of the state body were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Between 2001 and 2008 Gregory Craig racked up credit card expenses bills totalling €400,000 in international flights, hotels and dinners in some of the leading capitals of the world — and expected the cash-strapped taxpayer to pick up the costly bill.

According to reports yesterday, the former Fás corporate affairs director’s visa card was used to pay for €49,500 worth of restaurant and bar bills in Dublin, New York, Brussels, Florida, Moscow and Warsaw during the period.

In addition, the during the same timeframe the taxpayer was also landed with €157,600 in flight expenses and international hotel bills totalling €176,700 from Mr Craig alone.

The massive expense claims from the senior Fás director were not confined to international events, with the taxpayer also picking up bills from the Langkawi restaurant on Baggot Street in Dublin 106 times.

As a result of the initial Fás furore, Mr Craig was suspended on full pay last December. But earlier this year he was reinstated and had the suspension reclassified as administrative leave after his union SIPTU claimed the step was in breach of disciplinary rules.

Mr Craig has not commented on the matter publicly, stating that he is prohibited from speaking to the media by Fás.

However, the present predicament of the one-time political protege of Brian Lenihan Snr and associate of that Fianna Fáil family is unlikely to be a situation he ever expected to occur.

Mr Craig was appointed to the Department of Defence ministerial office in July 1989 by his then mentor Brian Lenihan Snr.

In 1991, the new kid on the block followed the path of the senior Fianna Fáil member by standing for the party in the local elections in Ballyfermot, west Dublin.

The attempt to achieve political success on a par with Brian Lenihan Snr and his two sons Brian Lenihan Jnr and Conor Lenihan, both of whom are cabinet members, was ultimately unsuccessful, but Mr Craig was able to use his talents to forge a career in Fás, which he entered in the 1990s.

In September 2002, Mr Craig was appointed director of corporate affairs at the state body, and reached such a level in the organisation over subsequent years that he was shortlisted for the assistant director-general position in December 2007.

However, after the inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money in Fás emerged late last year, Mr Craig was put on leave with question marks appearing over his career.

He has since returned to his work with the organisation and continues to hold a director position, but is no longer in charge of the lucrative corporate affairs post.

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