In a damning report, the powerful public finance watchdog found a catalogue of spending and contractual irregularities at what was once England’s largest development corporation.
As well as criticising the role of the government department responsible for overseeing the corporation – the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions at it was called at the time – the NAO said governance at the corporation could have been more robust.
It said not all members of the TDC board understood their responsibilities and placed too much reliance on external auditor Price Waterhouse and the DETR for assurance on financial management.
The report was also highly critical of TDC’s chief executive, Duncan Hall, who often negotiated transactions on his own, without the board.
The NAO said: ‘At February 2002 the corporation’s deficit is some £23m, which may be offset if some of the uncertain receipts materialise but which could rise further as outstanding liabilities are settled by the residual body [English Partnerships].’
The Public Accounts Committee has now demanded to quiz Sir Richard Mottram, the permanent secretary of the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, who is currently at the centre of the Byers scandal.
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