ALLIANCE Finance Spokesman Seamus Close has accused the Government of allowing lawyers charged with recovering public funds to profit at the taxpayers’ expense.
Speaking after the publication of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry report “DeLorean: The Recovery of Public Funds – Report by Comptroller and Auditor General”, Mr Close stated:
“Just over 20 years ago, the Government poured nearly £80 million into DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) without having properly done its homework. This left the taxpayer to carry the can in ‘one of the gravest cases of misuse of public resources’ to come before the Westminster Public Accounts Committee.
“Today we learn that the Government, in its feeble attempt to recover some of that taxpayers’ money from the disaster, effectively passed millions of it to lawyers. This is particularly stark in an analysis of its claim against Arthur Andersen, DMC’s auditors. Here we have the Department and the Treasury solicitor’s department sleepwalking into legal expenses over several years, which amounted to some £20 million. This resulted in a net deficit for the taxpayer. Furthermore, we learn of unsecured creditors, of which there were approximately 600, owed some £14 million but who received a miserly four pence in the pound or £150,000 in total.
“Those responsible for this economic disaster have a lot to answer for, but not for the first time it’s the poor taxpayer who carries the can while lawyers ride off into the sunset with millions of dollars or pounds. Just like Rip Van Winkle, the Department now realises – 20 years too late – that there needs to be a ‘continual review of costs and the objectives of litigation and the relationships between the two’ and that there should be formal independent reviews by lawyers not directly involved in the case. Such vision!”