MND’s 4 June response to media queries on application to expedite appeal

Jun 5, 2015

MND applied to expedite the hearings, because there is urgency for the matter to be resolved quickly.

First, AHPETC has breached and continues to be in breach of its duties and obligations. In the interest of residents and in the public interest, we need the Court to determine, as soon as possible, the steps that AHPETC ought to take to remedy its serious breaches. At stake are important public interest issues concerning public governance and accountability of a statutory body that collects moneys from residents and receives Government grants.

Second, AHPETC is in urgent need of fresh S&CC grants to deliver essential services to its residents and meet its legal obligations. MND wants to release the grants immediately, but can only do so with safeguards, which the High Court Judge found “reasonable”, and are necessary to ensure accountability. However, AHPETC has consistently resisted this, as it did previously when MND offered the TC half-grants in October 2014. This is presumably because it wants the grants, but without conditions and accountability. As the TC’s own Auditors and AGO has found the TC to be unable to safeguard public monies, a view that the Court has now endorsed, it would be irresponsible for MND to agree to this. The Judge observed that it “is probably right in that any conditions imposed by the Minister will be unacceptable to AHPETC and this will result in further court proceedings.”

Third, serious questions have been raised as to the validity and propriety of payments previously made by AHPETC to related parties or otherwise. Given the identified risks of loss of Town Council Moneys, and the importance of taking consequential inquiry and recovery action promptly, there is an urgent need for the Independent Accountants to be appointed with powers of inquiry and recovery. AHPETC’s Managing Agent (MA) contract with FMSS expires on 14 July 2015.