Audit panel to investigate GLA and LDA

by Penny Sukhraj

08 May 2008

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London mayor Boris Johnson has appointed a Forensic Audit Panel to investigate financial management and control of the London Development Agency and the Greater London Authority.

The LDA faced criticism in January over the way in which it accounted for its grants.

The Forensic Audit Panel has been tasked with recommending procedures to guarantee probity and transparency, as well as identifying areas where efficiencies can be made and resources redirected to the new mayor's priorities.

Johnson has also hired former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, Patience Wheatcroft, a distinguished and long-serving Business Editor of The Times and currently Non Executive Director of Barclays PLC and Shaftesbury PLC.

Other team members include Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council; Patrick Frederick, Chief Executive of Aimex International and former Head of Global Custody Operations for JPMorgan; Edward Lister, Leader of Wandsworth Council, and Andrew Gordon, Head of Investigations within the Forensic Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who will act as Independent Expert Advisor to the Panel.

The panel is to focus on allegations of mismanagement and corruption in the awarding of grants; how conflicts of interest are detected and recorded; and the monitoring of grant recipients' performance in delivering what they promised.

The panel has also been asked to suggest new processes to guarantee probity and value for money in relation to Publicity and advertising expenditure; the use of external consultants and agency staff; and all areas where expenditure has grown since 2004.

The panel is required to suggest areas in which savings can be made without compromising performance.

Johnson expects a progress report from the panel within 30 days and a final report within 60 days.

Commenting on the appointment of the panel, Boris Johnson said: 'I was elected on a promise to provide Londoners with better value for money from their taxes. I am delighted to have recruited some of the most capable and experienced people in the Capital to scrutinise recent performance at the LDA and GLA and suggest ways to prevent mismanagement and waste in future.

'Patience Wheatcroft will be fearless and dogged in pursuit of the truth about recent practices at the LDA. My administration has much to learn from Eddie Lister and Stephen Greenhalgh's experience of delivering value for money to London taxpayers and will benefit greatly from the financial acumen of Patrick Frederick,' he said.

Patience Wheatcroft, Head of the panel said: 'It is crucial to understand how public money has been wasted or misspent in the past so that we can make sure that it doesn't happen again. I am honoured to serve the new Mayor on this important initiative and am delighted that our Panel will be able to call on the expertise of Andrew Gordon, one of the country's leading forensic accountants. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to ensure that the LDA and GLA deliver value for money to the taxpayers of London.'

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