Dublin Port calls in private investigators over credit card spending ‘leak’

Executives ran up bills of more than €500,000 last year, according to reports

Dublin Port says it has begun an ‘immediate investigation into the source of the data leak’

Dublin Port says it has begun an ‘immediate investigation into the source of the data leak’

 

Dublin Port is bringing in private investigators in a bid to uncover the source of a “leak” about spending at the semi-state company.

The move follows reports of executives running up credit card bills of more than €500,000 last year. The company has claimed the release of the figures appeared to be designed to damage it.

Details emerged over the weekend of spending by 22 managers and executives using company credit cards, including chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly’s bills reportedly totalling almost €95,000 for flights, hotels and other expenses.

His expenses were said to include a €5,500 airfare for Dublin Lord Mayor Nial Ring to fly to Chicago.

Dublin Port has said it has begun an “immediate investigation into the source of the data leak to establish how it occurred and by whom it was carried out”.

“External expert investigators are being appointed to carry out a forensic analysis to determine how this occurred and who is responsible,” a spokeswoman said.

“Dublin Port wishes to establish the motivation behind the selective leaking of commercial information, which appears designed to create an incorrect and damaging perception of inappropriate spend by the company.”

Credit card spending

The company has also reported the incident to the Data Protection Commission.

Among the credit card spending detailed in a report in the Sunday Independent was the purchase at a cost of €3,000 of a Dublin Airport Gold card — which gives VIP treatment and access at the airport – by communications manager Charlie Murphy.

In response to queries from The Irish Times, a source close to the port said the purchase was made “in error” and the card was never used. The card was held for one year and “wasn’t availed of or used and wasn’t renewed”, the source said.

A gold card gives the holder access to unlimited fast-track through security, annual unlimited “executive short-term parking” and unlimited access to the “executive lounges”, as well as a discount on airport shopping.

In a statement, the port also moved to explain some of the other spending detailed in the alleged leak.

It said a €8,625 payment to John Cassidy Travel was for 22 children from St Joseph’s youth football club in East Wall to take part in a tournament exchange with Spanish children.

Merchandise

A €1,666.20 payment to Halpenny Golf was for branded merchandise, the port said.

It said the billing of an iTunes subscription was for work iPad cloud storage, a dishwasher repair was for an office appliance and a €25.08 payment to Amazon for a replacement coffee pot for catering use at the port.

“Credit cards are used as an administratively efficient means of payment with strong audit control,” said the port. “All credit card expenditure is properly recorded, receipted and authorised. ”

In response to queries about its booking of overseas flights, the port said budget or economy class flights are booked for short haul journeys, typically within Europe, and business class travel may be booked for longer flights.

Asked for a breakdown of its business class flights last year, the company said there were 11 such flights booked, to Chicago, Los Angeles, Quebec, Vancouver, Miami and Boston.

Another five business class trips — to Nigeria, Ghana, Jakarta and Singapore — were part of Dublin Port’s participation in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development TrainForTrade programme, with the cost of the fares being part-paid by the UN, the port said.