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Accountant faces disqualification over £2.2m fiasco

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20th Jan 2012
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Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) has started disqualification proceedings against a chartered accountant at the centre of the failed £2.2m Bioscience and Technology Institute (BTI) project.

Accountant Teresa Townsley had been appointed to the board of the BTI, along with three others, but ended up with her own private company earning £127,000 in fees from the government-backed initiative.

The company went insolvent in 2005 after a series of payments, which auditors found irregular, including £100,000 paid to Mrs Townsley as a 'finder’s fee' for finding a building which proved so unsuitable it was never even fitted out.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office has since produced a new report that shows there were concerns surrounding her conduct along with no evidence that she had told the rest of the board about this payment.

According to the report, "The finder’s fee invoice stated that the fee was at 2% of purchase price, for services rendered on a success fee basis. This invoice was sent with a covering letter to Teresa Townsley at the offices of MTF. However, there is no evidence of this letter and invoice having been discussed by the Board of BTI." It also later explicitly states that "BTI Board members were not aware of the final recipients of the £100,000 finder’s fee."

Townsley has told the BBC that said her involvement with the institute had left her unemployed and unemployable in Northern Ireland.

"I have been through hell and back. I sat for six months contemplating if suicide would take it away," she said. "I could just not believe, I could not believe that anyone could do this to an individual when decisions were made by a board. How could anyone pick on one individual when you are there as a member of a board?

The report also found in its value for money analysis that the BTI project “provided no value for the public funds committed to it. Further, with no sums having been recovered, some £2.2 million of taxpayers’ money has, in effect, been wasted”.

In May 2010, concerns about the conduct of Teresa Townsley and her husband Michael were referred to their professional body, the Chartered Accountants Regulatory Board.

The referrals are currently under consideration by that body, while the DETI is attempting to have her disqualified from being a company director.

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By Roland St Clere-Smithe
25th Jan 2012 12:06

Yet another crooked accountant.

How much has it cost to produce this report?

Ms Townsley should be made to reimburse the tax payer for the cost of uncovering her dishonesty.

 

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By WinstonNarine
25th Jan 2012 14:22

CLICO - CIB Affairs in Trinidad & Tobago - Commission of Inquiry

Much is being revealed about qualified ACCA personnel in the mismanagement of financial matters and failure to act in a professional manner and involved in corrupt transactions.

How can we as ordinary citizens take actions to have ACCA Local Chapter investigate and revoke the ACCA Practicing License of those Accountant involved.

Thanks.

Winston Narine

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By weaversmiths
25th Jan 2012 14:54

Gravy Trains

Looks like yet another scam with public money being misappropriated.  It makes me wonder if the correct people handle all this public grant money supplied for schemes like this, are they really up to it?  We had a similar occurrence with our local Council a few years ago where  a relative of a relative of a relative (we all know the picture) was provided with hundreds of thousands for a similar study on a proposed  totally unsuitable building on a seafront car park which, after hundreds of years,  suddenly appeared to belong to the Council and not the fishermen.   She closed/liquidated the company to ensure that there was no possibility of the money being returned and the land has now been given for free to a Art Gallery which very few of the inhabitants of the town want. Whatever happened to the "arm's length transaction" term?

TheAncientOne

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By chatman
25th Jan 2012 14:57

I love her indignation; she obviously feels terribly victimised. I would love to be like that; no guilt; life would be great.

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By The Black Knight
25th Jan 2012 17:00

why ?

are there no criminal proceedings ?

 

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By The Black Knight
25th Jan 2012 17:06

substantial transactions with directors ?

Surely if there was no approval then the transaction is Ultra Vires and the amount repayable ?

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By billgilcom
25th Jan 2012 21:35

proceeds of crime -POC
POC action should get all the ill gotten gains back if court action ensues from the public outcry... Ok you can always dream

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By The Black Knight
26th Jan 2012 09:28

Public outcry

I think you are right.....Nothing happens unless there is a public outcry !

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