An NAO report on the winding-up of the New Millennium Experience Company, the organisation responsible for running the Dome, said that despite earlier ‘serious financial problems’ it entered liquidation solvent and forecasting that £25m of its £628m lottery grant would not be needed.
The report said preparing the company for liquidation was a major task because systems for recording assets had been ‘overwhelmed’ in the rush to get it up and running – sales of the Dome’s assets eventually totalled £4.5m.
It complained of ‘a lack of adequate records’ regarding over 1,350 contracts, but said a review in the light of fraud allegations conducted with the help of a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers resulted in 13 cases being dropped and three being closed after inquiries by the Metropolitan Police Public Sector Corruption Unit, while two remain under police investigation.
The NAO found no evidence of systematic fraud but said there was poor or ineffective compliance with internal controls, with work awarded without competition, and it was doubtful that some purchases were good value for money.
The audit watchdog said the unusual step of placing a public sector body into liquidation and ensuring this was done with NMEC in a solvent state raised complex accountability issues – including the need to maintain parliamentary accountability in liquidation.
Bourn said the Dome project was unique with the report highlighting the ‘importance of proper records and internal controls’.
The dome was liquidated by KPMG
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Smith & Williamson has been appointed administrators of charity 4Children