A whistle-blower made contact with the EU advising them that the specialist dredging work had not been carried out and that Thanet Council had knowingly misused the EU money for other, non-approved, purposes in breach of grant conditions. The whistle-blower provided the EU with various documents which supported his/her claim of misuse of grant monies including internal documents and extensive correspondence.
After several years of passing the buck between EU and UK authorities the file eventually ended up on the desk of the Government’s Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) which began an investigation into these extremely serious allegations in the autumn of 2015. Evidence that the grant had been misused was so overwhelming that TDC had no choice but to fess-up and admit to the GIAA that no “dredging campaign had been carried out to deliver the project objectives i.e enlarging the turning circle and dredging of berth 2 and 3”.
What amazes me is that very senior TDC officers knew about this all along. In a 2008 top-secret internal report entitled “Request for Carry Forward of ERDF Funding”, written by a TDC finance boss, it was stated that the Council was “unconvinced that we could prove that the expected outputs of the project had been delivered. There was therefore a very real possibility that were the project to be audited we would be required to repay some or all of the funding awarded”.
But, rather than proposing that TDC act openly and honestly; admit to the EU it had failed to deliver the project and offer to repay the grant, the report instead “weighed up the likelihood of the project being audited and the Council being found out” , reckoned that the chances of being discovered were low and suggested that the Council should keep hold of the dosh. This is an action which most reasonable people would describe as dishonest, corrupt, fraudulent or stealing.
So who were those officers who appear to have conspired to misappropriate £165,000 of EU funding? Well sadly the GIAA report has redacted their names, probably because it is recommending that the police investigate, what is likely to be, a case of fraud or misconduct in public office. Also most of those involved have now left the employment of TDC. However I am sure that there many people out there, myself included who know who these officers were. I’m saying nothing as my recent experience with Thanet Council and the High Court (about which I will be writing shortly) as taught me a bitter lesson. But if there is any justice we should all know their names when they are dragged kicking and screaming before a judge to account for their dishonest actions.
In the meantime I understand a cheque for £165,000 is on it’s to Brussels.