Going...... the county finance boss responsible for investing £28 million in Icelandic banks

PUBLISHED: 10:07 29 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:54 06 May 2010

IN the wake of Herts County Council s blunder over investing millions of pounds in Icelandic banks, its finance director is leaving his job. Chris Sweeney is one of three of the county council s senior management team who is leaving over the next nine mon

IN the wake of Herts County Council's blunder over investing millions of pounds in Icelandic banks, its finance director is leaving his job.

Chris Sweeney is one of three of the county council's senior management team who is leaving over the next nine months as part of a planned restructuring

.Although the county council maintains Mr Sweeney's departure in March has been in the pipeline for some time, it comes in the wake of a critical report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) which highlights processing errors which resulted in the £28 million losses - around eight per cent of the council's total annual budget.

Mr Sweeney's departure will be followed at the end of May by Alan Warner, the director of people and property, and at the end of October by Andrew Laycock, the county secretary.

The three posts will be deleted and replaced with two new posts which, following a transition period, should achieve cost savings of around £250,000 a year.

A county council spokesperson said this week that they wanted to make it "very clear" that the decisions about the senior management team were part of a planned restructuring which would deliver cost savings while ensuring the county council had the right people to take the organisation forward.

Stressing that their departures should not be misinterpreted, he added: "These decisions have been in the pipeline for some time and are unconnected to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report."

PWC was called in by the county council to look at the £28-million investment in three Icelandic banks - money which has still not been retrieved and could be lost.

Their report found that the county council had not followed a new set of rules it had drawn up to monitor the banks and safeguard the money it was investing.

Despite the agreed improvements in monitoring and the identification of one of the banks, Glitnir, as unsuitable during the formulation of the policy, a complete check of the banks it was investing in was not carried out.

PWC also noted that on 28 occasions, the investments were only reviewed by one person and not by two as procedures required.

In response to the report, the county council has apologised for the processing mistakes and accepted that a clerical error meant that another of the banks, Landsbanki, had not been removed from its approved list of investment opportunities on April 1 as it should have been.

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