Dublin Port calls in external reviewers to review credit-card spending

Port managers spent €500,000 on flights, restaurants and entertainment

The board of Dublin Port Company has asked accountants Mazars to carry out an independent review of spending on company credit cards and official entertainment. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The board of Dublin Port Company has asked accountants Mazars to carry out an independent review of spending on company credit cards and official entertainment. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The board of Dublin Port Company has asked accountants Mazars to carry out an independent review of spending on company credit cards and official entertainment.

The review was ordered after it emerged that port managers spent more than €500,000 last year on flights, restaurants and entertainment across 22 credit cards.

Details emerged last weekend of the spending by managers and executives at the State-owned shipping port including the card of chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly, on which almost €95,000 was spent on flights, hotels and other expenses.

Following a meeting this week the board noted that “no malpractice” was identified in any credit-card expenditure reported in the Sunday Independent and that the spending was incurred on company business and in line with its strategy around the port’s development, which includes working with local communities.

Nonetheless, the board has decided to order an external review of the expenditure and hospitality to confirm and verify that all spending was “both appropriate and properly authorised”.

It is understood that the board wants the review carried out as a matter of urgency and that it will report its findings to the Minister for Transport Shane Ross after it is completed in the coming weeks. A spokesman for the company declined to comment beyond confirming the review had been ordered.

Earlier this week the port company said that its internal auditor reviews expenditure including on credit cards and reports directly to the audit and risk committee of the board. It said no concerns were raised about any expenditure.

“All credit card expenditure is in line with the company’s policy – only for business purposes, properly recorded, receipted and authorised,” the company said.

Source of leak

The company has launched an investigation into the source of leak of the details of the credit card spending and also reported the issue to the Data Protection Commission.

The revelations detailed total spending of €270,000 by four executives ranging from foreign travel and staff entertainment to iTunes subscriptions and dishwasher repairs.

Travel expenditure included business-class flights to Chicago, Los Angeles, Quebec, Vancouver, Miami and Boston, and travel relating to a United Nations programme to Nigeria, Ghana, Jakarta and Singapore.

The spending included more than €30,000 during meetings in restaurants and bars including The Long Hall, Matt the Thresher and The Stag’s Head in Dublin. A payment of €8,625 was made to a travel agency for 22 children from St Joseph’s youth football club near the port in East Wall to take part in a tournament exchange with Spanish children.

The State-owned commercial business has a turnover of more than €90 million and is investing €30 million in buying land and building new facilities to prepare for border checks after Brexit. It plans to invest €1 billion to develop the State’s busiest port over the coming two decades.