The last thing the British Council wants to do is wash its dirty linen in public. In fact I know from direct experience that the British Council would do almost anything rather than face the truth when it doesn’t look good for them, and so they dissemble a lot of the time. But what of this story? The head of Internal Services at the British Council (India) was laid off last January, after the British Council discovered that 62.5 lakh – about £85,000 – had been syphoned out of their accounts, presumably because they had identified this particular employee as syphoner-in-chief. But this story has only just become news now almost one year later. Hello?
Here’s what The Times of India had to say about it. Note that they say that the matter came to light two months ago – October one presumes – when auditors discovered that there was no such firm as JMJ Enterprises, which was the name under which the succession of invoices for toiletries etc. were issued to a value of £85,000. This raises more murky issues.
- If the British Council discovered that it was being taken for £85,000 by one of its own employees in January, why has it taken so long for the police to be involved? Do we assume that the British Council would rather hush the story up than involve the wheels of justice?
- If The Times of India is right that this “came to light” two months ago, then it was by definition in the dark before that. So who then were these auditors who uncovered the scam a second time? Presumably not the British Council’s own tame auditors, the monkeys who speak no evil, hear no evil and see no evil.
- If the British Council had been a little luckier and succeeded in hushing up the scam, how were they planning to account for a truly outrageous toiletries bill, and how indeed do they normally cover things up when £85,000 is spent on, er, fresh air?
- The culprit in this instance presumably believed that, apart from losing his job at the BC, he faced no further sanction. Did he perhaps know too much, or threaten to spill the beans on other matters? Are perhaps bigger sums involved elsewhere? Could it be that the Council decided that exposing themselves to ridicule over their toiletries was a lesser evil than some other revelations that are yet to see the light of day?
One senses that there is more to come on this one.