Report 115 - Unauthorised release of funds from the Central Fund of the Exchequer
A report, prepared in accordance with the provisions of Section 2 of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993, has been presented to Dáil Éireann today.
The Central Fund of the Exchequer receives most of the State’s revenues and is the source of most State spending. The account of the Central Fund is held at the Central Bank of Ireland. Funds can only be released from the Central Fund to the Minister for Finance, or his/her agent, as provided for by law. The Comptroller and Auditor General must issue a grant of ‘credit’ in advance of any such withdrawals.
This report details an occurrence whereby there was a failure of the controls over the withdrawal of money from the Central Fund on 28 October 2022, when the Central Bank issued to the Minister €738 million more than the amount of credit that was available to him to fund the delivery of ‘supply services’. These are the day-to-day services funded from the votes that are managed by central government departments and offices.
On 28 October 2022, the Department submitted two requests for supply services funding to the Central Bank, with a combined value of €2.597 billion. The Department did not identify that the total amount of these requests exceeded the value of the credit remaining at the start of the day. The Central Bank also did not identify that the credit limit would be breached, and made the payments.
There was a basis in law for the Department to have applied earlier for additional credit, but this had not happened. Notwithstanding this, it is a matter of serious concern that funds were released from the Central Fund without the necessary authorisation.
Both the Secretary General of the Department of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank have advised that a number of changes to controls have been, or will be, made to prevent any recurrence.