The Birmingham MP responsible for Britain’s aid budget has vowed to review lavish expenses claims after it emerged executives at a £2.5 billion government agency enjoyed posh dinners and luxury hotel stays at the taxpayer’s expense.
Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) recently returned from witnessing the devastation caused by flooding in Pakistan, where Britain has provided £50 million in aid, in his role as International Development Secretary.
But he was plunged into a row over waste after it was revealed managers at the Commonwealth Development Corporation dined at some of London’s finest restaurants - and put the bills on expenses.
Officials treated themselves to dinner at the Michelin-starred L’Autre Pied restaurant in London, at a cost of £700, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
One Commonwealth Development Corporation executive, Anubha Shrivastava, was said to have claimed £530 for a one-night stay at the Four Seasons hotel in Hong Kong and £661.48 for a two-night stay at the five-star Portman Ritz Carlton in Shanghai.
Chief executive Richard Laing, whose pay came under scrutiny last year following reports that he received salary and bonuses totalling £970,000, claimed £7,414 in expenses last year, the paper said.
The Commonwealth Development Corporation is a private company owned by the Government which runs a £2.5 billion investment fund supporting commercial enterprises in the developing world.
A spokesman for the Department for International Development said: “Lavish expenses are completely unacceptable.
“The Secretary of State has set up a review of all aspects of Commonwealth Development Corporation’s work, including pay and remuneration, to ensure their investments help the poorest and provide real value for money for the taxpayer.”
A Commonwealth Development Corporation spokeswoman said today: “Commonwealth Development Corporation’s expenses policy covers reasonable costs incurred in the course of our business.
“On behalf of the Government, we’re running a £2.5 billion company investing in businesses in the developing world because the private sector and economic growth are essential for sustainable development.
“We’re not a quango. We don’t cost the taxpayer a single penny and have created £1.2 billion in the last four years alone for investment in yet more promising businesses in Africa and Asia.
“We invest in 800 businesses supporting the lives of some three million people in poor countries. Of course we incur expenses in the course of doing that.”