Public Accounts Committee chairperson, Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, has called on the Department of Finance and the Central Bank to explain how €750m in exchequer funds was released without authorisation in October 2022 and what changes will be put in place to ensure such a breach of procedure does not occur again.
His remarks follow a report published this afternoon by the state’s financial watchdog in which the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) expressed “serious concern” at a breach of controls within the Department of Finance and the Central Bank.
Teachta Stanley said:
“The Public Accounts Committee will be writing to Mr John Hogan, the Secretary General of the Department of Finance, seeking an explanation of how €750m of exchequer money was drawn down without adequate authorisation.
“This was a serious breach of control, and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) needs to see substantial assurances that such a breach will not happen again.
“As outlined in the C&AG’s report, on October 28th 2022, there was a failure between the Central Bank and the Department of Finance to identify that the total amount of money being requested for withdrawal from the Central Fund exceeded the value of credit remaining at the start of the day. This resulted in €750m of exchequer funding being withdrawn without adequate approval.
“The law requires the Minister, in advance, to seek independent assurance of the appropriateness of withdrawals and this did not happen. In fact, the C&AG was not informed of this breach until November 1st.
“Minister McGrath confirmed on Newstalk this morning that an internal review of what went wrong has taken place. I believe the PAC should receive a copy of this review.
“The PAC needs to know how this happened, why it happened and who is responsible for the breach.
“This matter has undermined the financial prudency of the Department of Finance and the Central Bank with regards to exchequer funds and we need to restore trust in our processes.
“The PAC also needs the department and the Central Bank to detail exactly what changes are being put in place to ensure that no such breach occurs again.”
Link to report: Unauthorised release of funds from the Central Fund of the Exchequer (audit.gov.ie)