Horse Racing Ireland has reported a cash-in-transit loss of €389,000.
The incident behind the substantial financial loss was revealed in the HRI’s 2019 Financial Statement presented to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday.
The report, seen by the Irish Examiner, details a number of losses.
The group statement of income and expenditure indicates that the group incurred a loss of €2.064 million in 2019 related to Horse Racing Ireland’s investment in an associate company, Curragh Racecourse Limited.
Horse Racing Ireland had invested €23 million in the associate by the end of 2019, and had a 35.29% economic share in the company. The group’s cumulative loss to end 2019 arising from the investment was €4.523 million.
The statement on internal control discloses that the group also incurred a loss of €389,000 in 2019 arising from the liquidation of a cash-in-transit service provider.
"Despite the significant controls in place, HRI Group suffered a financial loss of €389,000 in relation to cash in transit services," it states.
"The service provider went into liquidation whilst holding cash relating to both Horse Racing Ireland owned racecourses and Tote Ireland Limited.
"Horse Racing Ireland awarded its cash in transit service to a new provider which provides a shorter turnaround time in relation to cash lodgements minimising risk to the organisation.
"The new provider holds separate bank accounts for all aspects of customer funds. Horse Racing Ireland now operate with a secure online portal for all floats and lodgements. The new provider is operating with strong adherence to contractual key performance indicators."
The committee has since written to Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) seeking a detailed explanation behind the incident.
The loss was suffered after the cash-in-transit service company went into liquidation whilst holding cash relating to HRI.
Sinn Féin TD and chair of PAC Brian Stanley has called on the board of the HRI to explain the unusual circumstances behind the loss of €389,000 due to "ineffective risk management and controls".
“Horse Racing Ireland is a body which received €67.2m from taxpayers in 2019," Mr Stanley said.
“Since 2001, it has received almost €1bn from the State. In return for such investment we expect a very high level of risk management and control."
He said upon reviewing the HRI’s financial statement for 2019, the PAC has taken the decision to write to the board of HRI and request an explanation behind the loss of the money which he said occurred in "one incident".
“It is explained in the financial statement and in the Comptroller and Auditor General's notes that a disclosure has been made by HRI that an incident occurred where a financial loss was suffered in relation to cash in transit services whereby the service company went into liquidation whilst holding cash relating to HRI," said Mr Stanley.
“The situation and the explanation leaves the Committee with a lot of unanswered questions and some reservations regarding the HRI’s level of internal controls."
The Sinn Féin TD said that, despite this review and considering the "substantial amount of public money that is injected into HRI each year" it is imperative that the PAC hears directly from HRI regarding this incident and that all safeguards are now put in place to minimise risk.
“Following our correspondence with the HRI, the PAC may wish to invite the body to attend the committee," he said.