Corruption alleged at housing association
A housing association is at the centre of a police investigation into alleged public corruption.
Habinteg Housing Association in Ulster is involved in a Police Service of Northern Ireland investigation over claims of public corruption.
The association is not the same as Habinteg Housing Association in England.
The investigation was revealed in a Department for Social Development report of an inspection of the housing association.
The report was finished in May 2010 but was only made public today (Tuesday) following a freedom of information request.
In a section in the report entitled ‘objective’, the DSD sets out what was being done with regards to alleged criminal activity.
Under the sub-heading ‘Alleged Fraud / Public Corruption’ the report says: ‘This matter is with the police and is subject to an ongoing investigation. The Director of Finance believes that this is moving very slowly as the PSNI are currently seeking a third party in connection with the case.
‘The Association will continue to keep the Department informed of any developments.’
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: ‘PSNI can confirm that an investigation into alleged fraud in relation to Habinteg Housing Association is ongoing.’
The report goes on to reveal how the association was subject to fraud previously when 12 cheques for a total of £26,000 were discovered with forged signatures.
The report also reviewed how the association was faring overall and gave the damning verdict of ‘no assurance’ – the lowest rating.
The same grade was applied to the association’s financial management, property development and corporate governance and management departments.
The association’s Property Management was given a rating of ‘limited assurance’ – the second last of four ratings.
The report made a number of recommendations which it wanted the association to implement.
A spokesperson for Habinteg Ulster said: ‘Habinteg Housing Association (Ulster) Ltd has responded positively to the report from its funding body, the DSD, following the audit inspection in 2009.
‘The association has drawn up an action plan, agreed with the DSD, to resolve any outstanding concerns and is proactively driving through improvements to ensure best practice and full compliance with all recommendations.’
A spokesperson for the DSD said: ‘The Department for Social Development is working closely with Habinteg housing association as they take forward work to address the significant issues identified in the inspection report.’