DfID-Backed Anti-poverty Body Faces Review

    U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell. Photo by: Foreign and Commonwealth Office / CC BY ND Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeCC BY ND

    U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell has ordered an urgent review of the Commonwealth Development Corporation, a non-departmental public body that supports businesses in some of the world’s poorest countries, amid reports of executives’ lavish spending.

    CDC executives ran up huge taxi, hotel and restaurant bills at U.K. taxpayers’ expense, the U.K.-based Daily Mail has alleged.

    Non-departmental public bodies, also informally referred to as quasi-non-governmental organizations or quangos, independently carry out the work of an official department of the U.K. government. They are not part of any department but are the responsibilities of the minister of the branch that sponsors them. CDC is run by the Department for International Development.

    “Lavish expenses are completely unacceptable. The Secretary of State has set up a review of all aspects of CDC’s work, including pay and renumeration,” a spokesperson for DfID said according to the Press Association.

    A CDC executive, Anubha Shrivastava, was reported to have claimed 530 pounds (USD819.25) for a one-night stay at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong, and 661.48 pounds for a two-night stay at the Portman Ritz Carlton in Shanghai, the Press Association says. Chief executive Richard Laing reportedly claimed 7,414 pounds in expenses last year. Laing’s pay was also questioned in 2009 following reports he received salary and bonuses totaling 970,000 pounds, according to the news agency. 

    CDC’s Chief Operating Officer Shonaid Jemmett-Page reportedly claimed 336.54 pounds for a taxi from Brussels to Paris, the Daily Mail says.

    A spokesperson for CDC has maintained that the expenses were “reasonable,” the Daily Mail says.

    “Our investment team spend a huge amount of the year travelling and we do not think it is unreasonable at all that they should stay in a decent hotel in a way that allows them to do their work properly,” the spokesperson explained according to the newspaper. “’We believe all the expenses we incur in the course of business are reasonable.”

    About the author

    • Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.