A criminal investigation into the way Thanet District Council spent European funding should be conducted, according to the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA).
The council received more than €160m from the European Rural Development Fund (ERDF) to part fund a dredging campaign at Ramsgate and build a new berth at Oostende. However, a whistleblower had raised concerns that the dredging works were being financed by existing budgets, and council staff were aware of this irregularity.
Auditors have now concluded there is sufficient evidence of ‘intent to defraud’ and have passed their finding to the police.
Their review stated: ‘Thanet District Council officials made a deliberate decision not to refund the ERDF grant when it was clear it had not been used for the purposes intended.
'It will be a matter for the police as to whether they agree with this judgement.’