After reading a report that the principal witness in the ongoing FAS scandal, Greg Craig, had refused a third ‘invitation’ to appear before the Dail Public Accounts Committee I rang PAC and spoke to a senior civil servant.
“The PAC has compellability powers, why doesn’t PAC compel Craig to give evidence?”
“PAC can get compellability powers but it’s quite difficult to get them, it takes a long time to get compellability powers.”
“It was vital for our examination that he comes in; we have enough information of what went on in FAS at the moment. Mr. Craig had an opportunity to put his side of the story because he was mentioned, as is his right, because there are allegations of wrongdoing. If he chooses not to do that then we’ll have to go ahead on the basis of what the findings are so far through the Comptroller and Auditor General.”
“I’m not interested in Mr. Craig’s difficulties; I want to know what happened to my money.”
“We know what happened from the C & AGs report and at the end of the day we want the C & AG to go back and conduct a more thorough investigation of FAS which he’s doing in January and we can’t be seen to be holding up that so we gave him the invitation.
It’s up to him if he wants to take it up, if he doesn’t we’ll just go ahead with the findings and the evidence we’ve taken so far. We know what went on, we know exactly what went on, we’ve got huge amounts of material from FAS and they have admitted what went on there in terms of what was wrong.”
“What power does the PAC have in regard to referring these matters to the Guards or the Fraud Squad?”
“That will be something we’ll look at; some of these matters have been referred to the Guards already.”
“I’m asking what powers PAC has at the moment.”
“We can make recommendations to the Minister for Finance and it goes back to the department of Enterprise as to what should happen but it’s not specified in our powers. All we can do is refer things to whoever is the regulatory authority.”
“What power does the C & AG have to refer these matters to the Guards?”
“The C & AG is an auditor but if he comes across something that’s criminal in nature he has to report it to the Gardai.”
“So, the PAC has no power, the C & AG has no power.”
“Well, I didn’t say they have no power.”
At this point the civil servant got angry with my questioning and proceeded to give me a dressing down.
I listened politely and responded by informing him that I was not ringing him on a whim but rather as a very angry citizen looking for answers.
I repeated my assertion that the PAC and C & AG have no powers apart from referral and recommendations.
“Yes, that would be correct.”
“Have any recommendations made by the PAC ever being referred to or acted upon by the Guards?”
“I don’t know, I couldn’t say. The PAC has been examining government bodies since 1924.”
“Do you find it odd that the C & AG has already investigated FAS and made a report?”
“He has looked at a report they’ve already made (FAS?) but this needs to be done in forensic detail??
“Could I outline the broad sequence of what has happened to date?”
“An anonymous letter was sent to Mary Harney which triggered an internal investigation in FAS which triggered an investigation by the C & AG which triggered an investigation by the PAC and when the PAC completes its investigation in January it will refer back to the C & AG who will conduct yet another investigation (This is where I get facetious) who will refer back to FAS who will refer back to Mary Harney who will refer back to the anonymous letter writer thus completing the circle of madness.”
The civil servant confirmed my sequence was correct up to the point where I became facetious.
I thanked him and told him he was doing a great job in defending a failed state.