‘Water Service dilute seriousness of fraud’

Commenting on the latest report, ‘Investigation of Suspected Fraud in the Water Service’, from the Audit Office, former Public Accounts Committee member and Alliance Finance Spokesman, Seamus Close said:

“This latest report from the Audit Office exposes the lengths to which elements within the Water Service will go to dilute the seriousness of fraud. What we see here is the drip-feed method of investigation which may have let some fish off the hook, but which have undoubtedly hindered the timely recovery of public funds.

“It is an absolute scandal that in spite of eight reports, the case is still not resolved and that it took from October 1997 until March 2003 – over five years – to have a writ of summons issued.

“Does this send out a message of zero tolerance towards fraud? Certainly not. The message is more akin to one of cover-up. What a pity we don’t have a Public Accounts Committee in Northern Ireland that could and would ask the appropriate questions on behalf of the taxpayer, who once again appears to have been badly served.”

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