When the MPs Expenses Scandal was exposed in 2010, it highlighted the need for public representatives to be subject to the same transparent and enforceable expense management policies as employees in the private sector. The implementation of our expense management software expense@work at IPSA was a key part of the new legislation introduced in the UK.
Unfortunately the lessons learned in the UK do not seem to have travelled beyond these shores. This has been re-emphasised by the current expense scandal in Spain resulting in the resignation of Chief Justice Carlos Divar and the expenses scandal in Nova Scotia where several legislators are facing prosecution on fraud charges.
In Spain Carlos Divar resigned from his position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and leader of the General Council of the Judiciary. He did this following an allegation by another judge that Divar claimed over $35, 000 holiday expenses as business expenses. (See NY Times Article: Spain’s Chief Justice Quits Over Claims of Misusing Public Money)
The scandal has had wide reaching implications in Spain as it is investigating several politicians and the son-in-law of King Carlos I on charges of corruption.
The expense scandal in Nova Scotia broke following a 2010 audit and involved a number of high profile legislators. Dave Wilson, a former Liberal member of the legislature has already been sentenced to nine months in prison for fraudulently claiming expenses totalling $61, 000. While, Independent member Trevor Zinck and former Liberal Russell MacKinnon are both awaiting trial on charges of fraud.
Proceedings against another legislator have already begun. This month, Richard Hurlburt, a former cabinet minister in Nova Scotia, has appeared in front of the Supreme Court. He pleaded guilty to defrauding the province of over $25, 000, through expense claims submitted over two years. Initially, Hurlburt denied the charges and blamed the “flawed system”. The Supreme Court will sentence Hurlburt on July 27. (See: Richard Hurlburt, Committed Fraud Totalling Over $25, 000)
These two cases, coupled with recent TD’s expenses controversy in Ireland, show that this problem is not unique to the UK and illustrates the importance of expense management systems in preventing the submission of inaccurate, misleading or fraudulent expense claims.