Wednesday, 23 November 2016

More concerns raised about Circuit of Wales viability.

As I have already stated that I have a fair bit of cynicism over the viability of the Circuit of Wales but lean to taking the risk 

I am not being helped however by news in the Wasting Mule that ..

Former Economy Minister Edwina Hart ignored warnings from a senior civil servant about financial transactions which subsequently totalled almost £1m involving the controversial Circuit of Wales project, 

Freedom of Information requests from the Welsh Conservativeshave revealed that Mrs Hart ignored advice from senior civil servants to refuse payments from the publicly funded Heads of the Valleys Development Company (HOTVDC) to Aventa Capital Partners Ltd for services related to the project.

An email to Mrs Hart’s private secretary from senior civil servant James Price, now Deputy Permanent Secretary for Economy, Skills and Natural Resources, stated in July 2014 that following the Minister’s approval of a loan guarantee worth up to £4.6m, it had become clear that HOTVDC wanted to make substantial payments to Aventa, which is wholly owned by Michael Carrick.

In his email, Mr Price said: 

“In challenging Michael Carrick to evidence what these payments relate to, we are concerned about the Aventa payments, as the schedule of services provided by this company appear to relate entirely to the management of the project, including negotiating with the Welsh Government.”

Mr Price said he understood that Aventa had been engaged by HOTVDC under a service contract relating to

“fundraising, equity structuring, debt arranging and management investments”. He added: “On a simple analysis ... it appears that our loan guarantee will facilitate a very substantial payment from one company in which Michael Carrick has a significant interest to another wholly under his control. Consequently I have been resisting allowing these payments to be funded from the guaranteed loan.”

Which seems to me that it is Civil Servant speak for take care this could be dodgy as it looks like  thos involved  are .“paying themselves to advise themselves” through consultancy fees;

 Mr Price added that the chairman of the company had stated in a letter that 

if the Welsh Government did not agree to the payments then “...Directors would also have to give serious thought to the viability of the project given the loss of the key men and their own role in the company...”

Mr Price stated:
Chris Munday [another senior official] and I have discussed this concern that whilst this guarantee carries a significant risk for Welsh Government by using our guarantee to pay Aventa the result is that Michael Carrick is not sharing any of that risk. The position is further exacerbated by a lack of evidence of what the money is actually to be spent on by Aventa or the contractual basis for payment. If the Minister is content we will continue to hold this line.”
It appears that Ms Hart ignored the advice , Unfortunate she is no longer an AM  and may not be inclined to tell us why. 

Perhaps Of even greater concern is the Conservative leader  Andrew T T Davies  producing  invoices detailing several thousand pounds had been paid to Labour to sponsor events by Aventa owned by Michael Carrick (who established HOVC), suggesting it was used to access Welsh Government Minister.

Before even a penny is paid by the Welsh Assembly  we need an enquiry into the links  between Aventa and HOVC and ask if this  a responsible arrangement.

There is a danger that Wales looks so desperate to secure such projects that the Assembly  Government will look at any fly by night offer with favour.

The Circuit of Wales could be a brilliant success but recent events are surly worrying

No comments:

Post a Comment