Very inward investment…

INVEST NI’s aim is to “role is to change Northern Ireland into a high growth economy driven by innovation and enterprise”. For Invest NI, that seems to include investing £4 million of your money in companies linked to the board members of Invest NI. Conflict of interest? No – apparently “the transactions “were all conducted at arms length” and “were subject to normal project and programme rules and tendering procedures, where appropriate”.” Quite…The Tele reported that the Invest NI accounts report stated that transactions between it and firms linked to board members are “inevitable”.

Here are the details of the board members’ declarations of interest:

Professor Fabian Monds (Invest NI chairman) – £40,000 grant to Western Connect.

Dr Patrick Haren – £694,000 for services supplied by NIE; £92,000 for services provided by SX3; £192,000 grant to SX3.

Debra Jenkins-Devine – £80,000 investment and £56,000 grant to Exus Energy; £4,000 grant to B9 Energy Biomass.

Gilbert Little – £325,000 investment and £224,000 grant in Aepona.

Bill McGinnis – £488,000 grant to McAvoy Group; £65,000 grant to Memsis.

Dr Alan McClure – £86,000 grant to Precision Industrial Services; £18,000 for services supplied by same firm; £7,000 grant to Alpha Environmental Services.

Derek Shaw – £71,000 grant to Linden Foods.

Rotha Johnston – £10,000 grant to Variety Foods.

Teresa Townsley – £21,000 grant to Fusion Antibodies, a firm linked to her family.

Deborah Boyd -£1,000 grant to Would-U-Like Group.

Stephen Kingon – £1,439,000 for services supplied by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

The BBC reported on June 10:

The agency [Invest NI] had its budget cut in recent years because of the economic downturn, and its inability to spend its full allocation on investment projects.

However, a commitment was made that if economic activity increased and more funds were required to back business investments, then the money would be found under an industrial investment concordat.

Invest NI has done its financial projections for this year and concluded that its baseline budget is fully allocated, and as a result it is reluctant to make further significant financial commitments until agreement is reached on further funding under the concordat.

So Invest NI had its budget cut partly because it couldn’t allocate all of its funding. Then suddenly, Invest NI blew its entire annual budget within a few short months this year.

Now it comes to light that Invest NI is spent millions investing in businesses linked to its own board members.

Can anyone see what’s wrong with this picture?

The Shinners aren’t happy either. Not at the ‘jobs for the boys’ accusation, more like ‘no jobs for our boys’, but maybe a legitimate MOPE this time?