HS2, the £55.7 billion project to build a new high speed rail line, is vulnerable to fraud and other financial errors because of a lack of “basic financial controls”, according to MP’s.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee examined the HS2 finances after the National Audit Office (NAO), the official spending watchdog, discovered that £1.76 million in unauthorised redundancy payments were made to staff working for HS2 Ltd; the government-owned business building the new line. In a report, the Committee calls the payments “a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money”.
The report adds: “HS2 Ltd lacks basic financial controls in other important areas, heightening the risk of fraud and financial errors such as duplicate payments.’’
Aziz Rahman, founder of Rahman Ravelli, said the concerns voiced by MP’s could be applied to many companies and organisations who run the risk of fraud.
He added: “HS2 has had its critics and its supporters and is undoubtedly controversial. This latest episode will be seized on by its opponents.
“But the important point here, from a business crime point of view, is that it shows the scope that exists in companies for money to be wasted or obtained fraudulently. Whatever the nature of a company, it has to have in place sound, appropriate procedures to ensure its money and assets are managed responsibly.
“Only by doing this can a company hope to prevent fraud. If a company feels it has no one with the relevant expertise to devise and introduce such procedures, they need to seek the assistance of people who can do it for them.
“Leaving this to chance can prove costly. As HS2 has discovered.’’
Read our article: TACKLING BUSINESS CRIME IN YOUR WORKPLACE