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FAS chiefs enjoy a good life

Posted on: November 23rd, 2008 7 Comments

Luxury business-class flights for boss Rody Molloy and his wife, a €7,000 night out in a private dining room at the five-star Merrion Hotel, golfing at exclusive clubs, beauty salons and pay-per-view hotel movies are among the more extravagant costs incurred by top brass at beleaguered state job-creation outfit FAS. After a three-month investigation, Shane Ross and Nick Webb blow the lid off the rampant spending excesses of the key officials at the crisis ridden semi-state body

Air Fares

Director-General Rody Molloy and his wife travelled widely on behalf of FAS.

In a four-year period, Molloy, sometimes flying with his wife, clocked up almost €48,000 in business-class airfares. In February of this year they incurred an airfare bill for a return trip to the east coast of America for €7,500.

Last year alone, the Molloys flew to New York in May, costing €6,655. Both travelled business class. In November they returned to New York, with airfares costing €7,281. Last year they cost FAS €6,455 for a similar trip, business class again .

The Molloys also visited Boston on a cheaper €1,634 flight in June 2005. In July 2004, the pair flew to Orlando at a cost of €9,648 for the business class fares.

In January last year Ireland’s top trade union boss (president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions), FAS chairman Peter McLoone clocked up a €7,300 bill travelling business class to Orlando. Mr Molloy accompanied him at an identical cost of €7,300, a combined cost of nearly €15,000 for the two state employees.

In April Mr Molloy treated himself to a first-class transatlantic return ticket at a cost of nearly nine grand (€8,966).

Another FAS official went with his wife on a three-week round the world trip to Frankfurt, Tokyo, Honolulu, San Francisco and back to Dublin via Frankfurt. Their business class tickets cost €12,021.

The expense claim was signed by Rody Molloy.

FAS science challenge project manager John Cahill amassed bills of over €29,000 for seven transatlantic journeys — FAS did get a refund on one of his flights.

Hair and Beauty

FAS corporate affairs director Greg Craig’s company credit card was also used to cover a $410 bill at Solutions on West Cocoa Beach, Florida, also in August 2005. Solutions is a beauty and nail salon.

PAY-PER-VIEW movies

TOO tired to go to the cinema, top Fas executives billed the taxpayer for pay-per-view movies watched in their hotel rooms.

Corporate affairs director Greg Craig’s credit card was used to pay for a hotel room movie costing $12.71 in Florida in mid 2005. Further hotel room movies were bought using credit cards for a top FAS official in the Houston Marriott in October 2005.

Craig’s card was used for a $32.46 pay-per-view movie also at the Houston Marriott and a $16.05 pay-per-view film in the Hyatt.

Another top official watched two $14.90 hotel room movies when staying at the Orlando Hyatt. Yet another FAS executive clocked up a $34.40 pay-per-view movie on one of his US visits, according to the FAS credit card receipts

Golf Games

A Fas credit card was used to pay $942.53 for Rody Molloy to play a three-ball golf match at the Orlando Florida Grand Cypress Resort Golf club, described as “a golf resort more grand than you ever imagined”.

The receipt details that “Molloy” was the player and the costs at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course included rental of clubs, shoes and equipment on the morning of January 28, 2005.

Dinners

Fas held a €200-a-head dinner for 33 people in Dublin’s five star Merrion Hotel in June 2006. They took a private room.

The total bill fell just short of seven grand (€6,962) but the wine bill came to a stunning €1,724, mostly featuring a cheeky little Cabernet Sauvignon at €48 a bottle. The room cost €550 to hire. The generous FAS top brass even gave tips — courtesy of the taxpayer — of just short of a grand (€908).

Greg Craig’s credit card had a $994.14 dinner bill from St Augustine, Florida, restaurant 95 Cordova “routed from Molloy Rody and N”. There was also a bill from the Cobalt lounge for $175.20 from the same evening in July 2005. It’s one of the finest restaurant in Florida, “attracting VIPs, heads of state, and gourmets”, according to the blurb.

Travel

FAS spent almost €643,000 on travel to the US for Rody Molloy his wife, key executives and FAS guests in just four years.

The vast majority of the cost was for business class flights for the top brass. Club Travel was paid a total of $229,957 for flights to the US between 2003 to 2007. Donnybrook Travel was paid €176,318 over the same period, with Regency Travel billing for €236,138.

Corporate Affairs executive Sean Connolly’s card was used to pay Neenan Travel €760 for Connolly to bring his Volvo 540 on the ferry to France in June 2003, returning the following month.

Chauffeur Services

During the visit of US astronaut Eileen Collins in 2006, FAS spent €13,000 with Pro-drive Limousine & Chauffeur services in less than a week.

The purpose of her visit was to promote science for children in Ireland.

These included journeys for Rody Molloy and Greg Craig and visits to the zoo and Dublin’s Viking Tour for the astronaut’s family.

Credit Cards

Greg Craig had a visa card, paid by FAS, with a credit limit of a staggering €76,000.

Sean Connolly’s limit was €70,000. These credit cards were used for company expenses, restaurants, hotels etc. John Cahill had a credit card limit of only €19,500. They were all paid off every month.

Gifts

FAS bought a €500 glass barometer as a gift to present to the Minister for Education Mary Hanafin on a visit to their US project .

Her department was not aware that FAS paid for it but believed it was from students on the US course. FAS paid an extra €419 for it to be posted back to Ireland.

The FAS files show Greg Craig’s card was used for a $437 purchase at the PS Store on a different visit in August 2005. The expenses form describes the purchase as “merchandising (for minister)” however it does not specify which minister. Another $179.05 spend at Extreme Wireless store is also described as “merchandising”.

A Fas credit card was used to buy a $116 suitcase from Macy’s which was then used to carry €474.25 worth of presents — largely glasses — bought at the airport, plus a further $172 in other gifts. The gifts were for corporate use.

Connolly also spent €764 buying 1,000 Ireland/Finland lapel pins from a jeweller.

Restaurant Bills

FAS executives spent liberally in Dublin’s restaurants. Suspended director Greg Craig tended to favour the trendy Unicorn or the Orchid Szechaun Chinese, both of which appeared regularly on his FAS visa card.

The reason given for the entertainment was usually “representation”. In the US Craig favoured the Mango Tree on Florida Beach where he once ran up a single Bill for €2,344. Another card issued to a FAS staffer had a $241 meal at Prego’s in Houston referenced to John Cahill.

Another FAS suit spent $192.32 on room service at the Houston Marriott hotel in October 2005.