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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 March 2006, 06:41 GMT
'Serious failings' at jobs agency
Invest NI
Former small businesses agency Ledu is now part of Invest NI
An organisation set up to create jobs in Tyrone and Fermanagh has come in for stinging criticism from the public spending watchdog for the second time.

The Audit Office highlights serious failings and controls at Into the West and former small business agency Ledu.

In 2004, the Audit Office issued a damning report on the running of Into the West and has taken the unusual step of reporting again on the same subject.

Into the West was set up with the aim of encouraging business start-ups.

It was run out of the Omagh office of the then small business agency Ledu.

The Audit Office said Ledu did not have proper contracts in place when it set up Into the West and did not strengthen them over time.

In addition, it did not supervise its western office regional manager, which meant that his negligence and poor practice were allowed to continue unchecked, said the report.

It also highlights poor management of agents working in Australia for the body and the avoidable loss of 15,000 on a postponed trip to Australia at the time of the Sydney Olympics.

The value for money of the trip is questioned as most of the participants were not from business, but were linked to district councils or were local dignitaries.

Ledu used to look after small businesses but is now part of Invest Northern Ireland.

Ledu carpeted by MPs over report
13 Feb 06 |  Northern Ireland
Probe 'finds funding problems'
13 May 04 |  Northern Ireland
Business fraud raised in assembly
30 Jan 02 |  Northern Ireland
Enterprise firm 'misused' taxes
03 Jul 02 |  Northern Ireland

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