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Bonkers Blog October 2014

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13 October (Part 2) - What underhand fiddles are afoot this time?

Another Tweet I picked up on - OK, its author referred me to it - took me to a blog relating to Thanet council. You may or may not wish to read it, but suffice to say it commented on a fraud which saw a lot of European Union money disappear and now Thanet taxpayers look like having to foot the bill.

Bexley council has not been immune from frauds either and I don’t just mean the £2,300 odd that the former Conservative council leader got away with while the current leader Teresa O’Neill was his deputy and expected you to believe she had no idea what he was up to.

There is also a more recent one involving Sonia Hewey Healthcare which is due in court about now and perhaps it is not the only one.

Sonia Hewey may prove to be innocent but If Bexley’s procedures are so lax that a company can attempt a fraud in collaboration with a council officer think how much easier it might be if it was a complete inside job.

I was intrigued by this comment at the last Audit Committee meeting. (Apologies for the air-conditioning noises.)

It is from Sue Exton the Auditor referring to the fact that an objection to Bexley council’s accounts would lead to some delay and thanks to a question from councillor Daniel Francis (don’t Tories ever ask the right questions?) we discovered that the last time there was such an objection it cost an additional audit fee in the region of £18,000 plus VAT but this time it is expected to be higher.

In the few weeks that have passed since then my enquiries have provided a few details on what may be afoot that could cause a re-audit and frustratingly I am advised that for legal reasons it would be unwise to go into too much detail. However I think it is only fair to say it is not an insider job in the sense that the Finance Department has been dipping their own sticky fingers into the till, but maybe someone used to fleecing residents has been doing so on a bigger scale than might have been imagined.

The following item in the new budget forecast may or may not be relevant. It refers to a figure of £60,000 or to put it another way, three Splash Parks.
Audit
Note: I do try to make these reports comprehensive so that there is at least some chance for readers to research them and see if there might be a valid alternative viewpoint, however thanks to the legal advice I am unable to significantly enlarge on what the auditor said publicly. I suspect that in the weeks to come I might be shown to have been more cautious than necessary and this could become just a little embarrassing. C’est la vie.

 

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