Wales Audit Office accounts incorrectly pepared, says NAO

THE LAST FIVE YEARS’ worth of Wales Audit Office (WAO) accounts have been incorrectly prepared.

A review of the WAO’s accounts by the National Audit Office (NAO) and Welsh auditor general has found numerous weaknesses in its procedures for preparing its financial statements.

A report by Welsh auditor general Huw Vaughan Thomas for the Welsh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee found the WAO had misstated its financial position in its 2009/2010 accounts, were deficient in some aspects of presentation and showed weaknesses in policy and practice.

A separate review by the NAO found the WAO’s accounts had not been prepared with the applicable financial reporting framework since 2005/2006.

The failure to recognise ongoing liabilities in full had “impacted significantly” on the supply position of the WAO.

Accounting policies and accounting treatments were applied inconsistently, and governance for the review and approval of accounts had failed to work effectively.

The former chief operating officer’s payout also came under fire, with Vaughan Thomas stating that the settlement “proved to be far more generous than had been understood by other senior managers in the organisation”.

The forward provision for the settlement, of more than half a million pounds, failed to appear in the WAO’s 2009/2010 accounts.

Previous auditor general for Wales Jeremy Colman resigned in February, and was jailed for eight months in November for making and possessing indecent images of children.

“Clear lapses in integrity at the very top” of the organisation compounded the governance weaknesses, said Vaughan Thomas.

“…Including an instruction by Mr Colman that the head of finance should keep both the existence and contents of the retirement package agreed with the departing CEO entirely confidential from all other staff within the Wales Audit Office,” he stated.

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