Goal loses €3 million in Irish Aid funding amid US corruption probe

Annual grant is being withheld as US authorities examine fraud allegations

Goal loses €3 million in Irish Aid funding amid US corruption probe

Image: Goal/Facebook

The head of aid agency Goal has said the charity intends to introduce reforms to address shortcomings in its procurement practices.

Barry Andrews told Newstalk Breakfast he hopes Goal will be in a position later this month to reassure Irish authorities about its handling of fraud allegations.

It comes after the Department of Foreign Affairs withheld around €3 million in funding from the Irish NGO on foot of a US government investigation into its Syrian aid programme.

The probe by foreign aid agency USAID is examining alleged supply chain irregularities relating to a number of US-sponsored programmes in Syria.

American funding for parts of Goal’s work was suspended in April pending the outcome of the investigation.

In an interview with Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Andrews confirmed that the Irish government has denied Goal annual funding from its humanitarian programme plan.

The grant is ordinarily provided to help the charity deal with “predictable and protracted” humanitarian crises.

Mr Andrews said Goal has appointed accountants BDO to carry out an investigation into its procurement processes, in parallel with the USAID inquiry.

“I want to drive an implementation plan arising from the BDO report over the next six months … to protect ourselves from vulnerabilities,” he told the programme.

Kickback schemes

Mr Andrews added that the charity has found a way to continue its programme in northern Syria by working through charities such as Catholic Relief Services and World Food Programmes.

“Our focus throughout this difficult process is the one million beneficiaries relying on Goal.”

He said the NGO has released three staff members as a result of the US probe into alleged bid-rigging, bribery and kickback schemes.

“There is some truth to the allegations,” he said of concerns cited by USAID.

Mr Andrews told the programme that Irish Aid’s decision to withhold funding will present the charity with cash flow issues and impact on its response to “certain chronic emergencies”.

“We’ve managed to shorten some of gaps - there are other funders we can look to - but it is a difficult situation.”

He said Goal will present the outcome of the BDO investigation to Irish Aid in the hope of restoring its confidence.

“We should be in a position to do that in the next week or two,” he said.

Mr Andrews added that the charity has a whistleblower system and anti-fraud measures in place to ensure all concerns raised with its head office are dealt with. 

Newstalk.com has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs for comment.