Press Release: Special Report 9:Bord na gCon

The Comptroller and Auditor General has today published a special report on the results of an examination carried out on the arrangements for the procurement of certain capital works and services and related matters by Bord na gCon.

Background to the Examination

Bord na gCon is a commercial semi-state body established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 with the objective of improving and developing the industry. The Comptroller and Auditor General was appointed auditor of Bord na gCon and its subsidiaries in 2001.

Following an independent examination by Mr Tim Dalton a report on certain matters relating to administration at Bord na gCon was published in July 2006. During the course of that examination certain individuals drew attention to matters that in their view, merited examination by the Comptroller and Auditor General. In addition, related matters had come to the attention of the Comptroller and Auditor General in the course of the audit of the financial statements of Bord na gCon. The Comptroller and Auditor General decided that an examination of specific issues was warranted and this report sets out the results of that examination.

Main Findings

Since 2001 Bord na gCon has gone through a period of transition. Its product has been developed partly as a result of the application of financial assistance of ?79 million that it received from the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund between 2001 and 2006. As a result, greyhound racing in Ireland has become a major spectator sport and entertainment option.

This drive to enhance its product was not always matched by a governance regime designed to administer the organisation and its funds to optimum effect.

In the period from 1997 to 2003 there was a division of duties that served to limit the CEO?s involvement in a key part of the organisation (Shelbourne Park and Harolds Cross). This gave rise to fragmented leadership and an absence of coherent internal control and management and was a contributory factor in the shortcomings that surfaced at the Shelbourne Park track including

  • Informal arrangements for the procurement of services in relation to security and the internal supervision of building works.
  • The making of cash payments to security staff through a private sector catering company ultimately leading to a voluntary settlement with the Revenue Commissioners in respect of the tax due on those payments.
  • The acquisition of a generator subsequently found to be 20 years old.

Within the overall organisation there was considerable turnover of key staff and almost ?4 million was incurred in legal costs on personnel related cases involving, amongst others, the senior management of Bord na gCon in the period 2000 - 2006.

Oversight and review by a properly functioning audit committee is a critical element in a public body?s overall corporate governance regime. While its charter required the audit committee to meet at least four times a year, it only met once a year from 2002 to 2005 and no meeting was held between February 2005 and June 2006.

The alteration of the terms of a short lease of an annexe to the Limerick Head Office conferred property rights on a tenant and gave rise to a compensation payment when Bord na gCon sought to rescind the lease soon afterwards.

The key findings of the Report are set out in Chapter 4.

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The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent constitutional officer with responsibility for the audit of public funds. He reports to Dáil ?reann.

The full text of the report is available on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (go to www.audgen.gov.ie)

For further information about the report, please contact: Peter Deane at (01) 603 1034 or at peter_deane@audgen.irlgov.ie