herald

Tuesday 29 July 2014

TD calls to scrap Temple Bar Trust

A DAMMING audit has exposed serious financial mismanagement at one of Dublin's most controversial bodies.

The Herald has learned that the under-fire Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) made late payments on its VAT returns -- and may face a Revenue Commissioners inquiry.

The body was also found to be "slow" in collecting hundreds of thousands of euro owed to it -- a situation its auditors say "requires immediate action".

And a non-management employee was found to be able to access TBCT's bank accounts.

The Herald also understands that the auditors tasked with examining the TBCT accounts were unable to match cash receipts with the relevant invoices.

TBCT's accounts will also be the subject of a formal Dublin City Council audit, while well-placed Government sources are also concerned about the financial state of the firm.

And for the first time, a Government TD today called for the body to be "scrapped".

Fine Gael TD for Dublin South East Eoghan Murphy said he believed the taxpayer would be "better served" if TBCT was wound down.

The audit comes a year after the Herald revealed that the organisation offset the cost of two lunches -- totalling €2,600 -- against the rent owed by one of its tenants.



Debts

The meals were held in 2010 and 2009 at the award-winning Eden Restaurant in Temple Bar -- a building which is owned by TBCT.

More than 50 people ran up a bill of €2,644.80 which included 32 bottles of wine. The restaurant, co-owned by Jay Bourke, is being pursued for massive debts it allegedly owes to its landlord.

TBCT confirmed that the meals were held as part of "media briefings".

But in its annual examination, auditors expressed the following concerns:

nThe slow collection of money owed to TBCT poses serious financial risk to the company:

nManagement must immediately improve the way the company is run:

nCash receipts submitted did not match relevant invoices:

nThe firm has twice been late with VAT returns. If this persists, TBCT could be subject to a formal probe by the taxman:

nOne employee was able to authorise electronic bank payments, which, the auditors said should only be carried out by management.

TBCT chief executive Dermot McLaughlin said that he is "not in a position" to comment on the audit.

He said annual statements would be available following their submission to CRO.

However Dublin South East Fine Gael TD Eoghan Murphy said: "It's time for the cultural trust to go. This is a quango responsible for millions of euro worth of assets under its control but with very little transparency."

hnews@herald.ie

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