Speed camera group goes unlimited to maintain financial secrecy
Recent restructuring means consortium no longer required to file detailed accounts
The Go Safe consortium made profits of €50,000 a week in 2012. Photograph: Frank Miller
The private company that operates speed camera vans on behalf of the State has moved to shield its significant profits from public gaze.
In a restructuring completed in recent months, the company behind the Go Safe consortium has changed to unlimited status, meaning the firm is no longer required to file detailed accounts.
The consortium, which includes Kerry businessman Xavier McAuliffe, has also changed its ownership structure so that it is ultimately controlled by an entity in the Isle of Man.
This has the effect of giving it a form of limited liability in Ireland, despite its unlimited status here.
The Go Safe consortium made profits of €50,000 a week in 2012.
It secured the €80 million Garda Síochána contract to operate the speed camera vans in 2009. The scale of its profitability was revealed in accounts filed by Road Safety Operations Ireland (RSOI) with the Companies Office last July.
The figures show that the firm recorded operating profits of €3.12 million in the 15 months to the end of March 31st, 2012.
“Contracts are monitored”
The Department of Justice, which awarded the contract, declined to comment on the consortium’s move to conceal its financial performance. It would only say that “all contracts are monitored to ensure compliance with their terms”.
The Road Safety Operations Ireland recently lodged a two- page auditor’s report with the Companies Office that does not outline the scale of its profits for 2013, but confirms it is still making money.
The RSOI’s change to unlimited status is similar to moves made by several firms with large Government contracts to provide accommodation for asylum seekers.
Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins yesterday said: “Government departments should insist that companies who secure Government contracts should as a condition of contract remain limited companies and file their annual accounts in order to provide transparency to the public.”
He added: “As we have seen from the Irish Water situation, this Government doesn’t seem to value transparency or accountability.”
Work got under way on the five-year Go Safe contract – with the option of one further year – in November 2010 and on average, the Go Safe vans detect one speeding motorist an hour.
This works out at 72,000 detections per annum as the consortium is contracted to provide 6,000 hours an month.
The Go Safe cameras operate on sections of road that have a history of collisions where speed was a contributory factor. The locations of the cameras are available on the Garda website.
The operating profit in 2012 followed an operating loss of €2.5 million in 2011.
The accounts for the year to the end of March 2012 show that the operating profits were reduced by finance costs totalling €886,734, resulting in a pre-tax profit of €2.23 million.
The firm’s accumulated loss at the end of March 2012 stood at €836,769.
The company could not be reached for comment yesterday. However a spokesman for the company last July stated that the firm expected to eliminate retained losses within the following 12 months.