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Anti-poverty quango facing review

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell launched an urgent review of the work of an anti-poverty quango after reports of lavish expenses claims, according to reports.

The Daily Mail claimed executives at the Commonwealth Development Corporation ran up big taxi bills, stayed at luxury hotels and dined in some of London's finest restaurants at the taxpayers' expense.

One bill for dinner for CDC non-executive directors at the Michelin-starred L'Autre Pied restaurant came to £700, according to documents obtained by the paper in a Freedom of Information request.

A Department for International Development spokesman told the paper that Mr Mitchell ordered an urgent review into the work of the CDC.

"Lavish expenses are completely unacceptable. The Secretary of State has set up a review of all aspects of CDC's work, including pay and remuneration," he said.

One CDC executive Anubha Shrivastava was said to have claimed £530 for a one-night stay at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong, and £661.48 for a two-night stay at the five-star Portman Ritz Carlton in Shanghai.

Chief executive Richard Laing, whose pay came under scrutiny last year following reports he received salary and bonuses totalling £970,000, reportedly claimed £7,414 in expenses last year. These included £1,557 in taxi fares in London, £254 for a night at Singapore's five-star Fullerton Hotel and £3.29 for a notebook.

The CDC's spokeswoman insisted all the expenses were "reasonable", telling the paper: "Our investment team spend a huge amount of the year travelling and we do not think it is unreasonable at all that they should stay in a decent hotel in a way that allows them to do their work properly. We believe all the expenses we incur in the course of business are reasonable."

The CDC, which is owned by DFID, provides capital to businesses in some of the poorest countries in the world.

DFID's budget was spared from the Coalition Government's cuts and is the only department to be protected apart from the Department of Health.


From Belfast Telegraph