University investigates procurement card misuse allegations

23 April 2009

24 April 2009 | Jake Kanter

Leeds Metropolitan University (LMU) is delaying making public the findings of an investigation it launched into allegations that staff misused procurement cards.

The university asked KPMG to review staff transactions on purchasing cards after allegations about irregularities were raised by the Yorkshire Post.

The newspaper made 40 Freedom of Information Act requests and asked to see 5,000 receipts.

Its report claimed LMU "compromised" its own financial standards when staff spent thousands of pounds on individual transactions with procurement cards.

It said LMU has clear rules that purchases between £1,000 and £5,000 must be tendered if suppliers on an approved list are not suitable, while transactions over £5,000 should always be tendered.

Among the examples of "irregular" purchases since 2007 were a VW camper van for £8,500 and a flight tickets for more than £10,000.

LMU chief executive Geoff Hitchins reacted sternly to the claims: "I must stress that there is not a single instance of fraud or misappropriation of funds. However, the Yorkshire Post has identified areas where our purchasing card and procurement regulations appear to have been breached. The newspaper has given no context for these breaches although it has been provided to them."

Another university spokesman told supplymanagement.com the KPMG audit was completed but results would not be disclosed until they were cleared by the university's internal audit commission, which could be as late as June.

But he said a draft copy of report revealed systems of internal control, risk management and governance were "satisfactory".

In the case of the VW van, the spokesman said the purchase had unusual circumstances given there were few suppliers in the area able to provide it.

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