Latest Public Sector News

16.05.16

Criminal investigation could take place into Thanet Council fraud allegations

Following fraud allegations over the use of funding for dredging Ramsgate Port by Thanet District Council, the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) has recommended that a criminal investigation could be carried out.

Thanet council received funding from the European Rural Development Fund (ERDF) Managing Authority for a joint project between Ramsgate and Oostende ports to improve capacity by dredging Ramsgate and building a new berth at Oostende.

The project took place between 1 June 2005 and 30 June 2008 and was funded by €160m from the ERDF and €413m from Thanet council.

However, the GIAA found evidence to support allegations, made by a whistleblower and reported to the police in 2013, that a substantial portion of the money was only spent on routine dredging and that council staff were aware of this.

The report recommends that the ERDF Managing Authority consider reporting the matter to the police as a potential fraud case.

17 May UPDATE

A Thanet council spokesperson said: "Thanet District Council has been working closely with the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) since being approached in October 2015. The council ensured that the GIAA had access to all the information required and have answered any questions.

"The grant claim was made over eight years ago. Since then, the council has introduced new processes and procedures within its finance function; including the introduction of a dedicated External Funding Officer and the implementation of an External Funding Protocol which was recently updated in June 2015.

"The council has also commissioned an independent review by East Kent Audit Partnership to assess the internal controls in respect of externally funded projects. In accordance with council policy, although there is no evidence of fraud, the matter has also been referred to Kent Police."

(Image c. Gareth Fuller from PA Wire/ Press Association Images)

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