THE state spending watchdog has begun an investigation into the “unlawful” payment of millions of euro in allowances to senior university staff, the Irish Independent has learned.
The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (C&AG) office has agreed to a request from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to assess exactly how much was spent on unauthorised payments between 1999 and 2009.
It is understood the investigation will be completed by May.
There has been an ongoing dispute between the HEA — the agency responsible for higher education — and the universities over how much was paid to staff at colleges including UCD, Trinity College, UCC, NUI Galway and the University of Limerick.
The HEA has already told a Public Accounts Committee that it will withhold millions in funding from the universities in a bid to get the money back.
The allowances, including incentives and performance-related bonuses, were originally discovered by the C&AG in 2009
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