Belfast Telegraph

Scandal-hit Events Co boss Janice McAleese given 14-year ban

By Steven Alexander

The woman at the centre of one of Stormont's biggest financial scandals has been banned from being a company director for 14 years.

Janice McAleese was chief executive from 2003 of the Northern Ireland Events Company (NIEC) until the quango went bust in 2007, leaving the taxpayer to underwrite debts of £1.6m.

The longest anyone can be disqualified from acting as a company director is 15 years.

McAleese, who now lives in Elvanfoot, Biggar, Lanarkshire, quit just ahead of major financial problems coming to light. Her conduct was described by the NI Audit Office as the worst ever by a public official.

In a scathing report last week, Stormont's Public Accounts Committee concluded it was likely that "fraud on a grand scale" took place. False accounts were submitted, a signature on an overdraft agreement was allegedly forged and anticipated income of £250,000 vanished.

After the report, questions were raised over why no disciplinary action was taken.

NIEC was formed in 1997 to support major sports and music events. Over its lifetime, it received £18m in public funding and subsidised showpiece gigs at Stormont by artists such as Pavarotti, Rod Stewart and Elton John.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment yesterday listed a litany of failures that contributed to its decision to disqualify Ms McAleese.

They included:

  • Falsifying accounting records.
  • Failure to obtain board approval to spend £2,094,790 on more than 10 events.
  • Making payments of £486,042 without any documentation.
  • Failure to disclose a conflict of interest by providing funding to a person with whom she was in a personal relationship.
  • Making personal loans to NIEC in order to ease cash flow difficulties and hiding the financial deficit from NIEC's board and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure.
  • Giving the green light to build a new £225,842 motocross track without permission.
  • Getting the NIEC to employ one of her relatives to provide consultancy work without approval or disclosing the relationship.

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