A charity which fundraises money for NUI Galway spent thousands of euro on international business class flights, luxury hotels and taxis over a three-year period.
The Galway University Charity was the subject of a report issued by the Charities Regulator today.
The authority had received concerns regarding travel and hospitality expenses within the organisation and carried out an inspection of the financial records over three years for the financial years ending on June 30th in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
The report found that almost €30,400 was spent on 102 trips in taxis over the three years.
The inspector could not access information on the purpose for these trips, but many of the journeys were between Galway and Dublin each-way.
There were also records of trips from Galway to Sligo, Limerick, Shannon and Athlone.
The former charity director and former president of the university Dr James Browne accounted for three-quarters of these journeys on his own.
The charity also spent almost €48,600 on flights over the three years, many of which were business class.
New York was the main destination visited given that it is the location of the charity's annual gala event, but Singapore, Beijing and Toronto were also frequented.
During these trips, the charity stayed in several four and five star luxury hotels, with the average cost of the accommodation amounting to €385 per night.
The report says that in many cases, the cost of hotels was in excess of Revenue's guidelines for overseas travel.
Some of the hotels used included The Fitzpatrick Hotel in New York, the Shangri-La and Grand Hyatt in Singapore, The Westin in Cleveland and The Royal Automobile Club in London.
The inspector was told that Dr Browne was permitted to travel business class as given the charity status of the foundation, "we're expected to be ready for meetings, being there is important and being tired is not giving your best".
As well as this, Dr Browne's wife had flight expenses of €7,965 incurred by the charity,
Under the university' policy, spousal travel is provided for in "exceptional circumstances" where there is benefit to the university.
Dr Browne said his wife only travelled when asked to do so by the charity "for the purpose of building philanthropic relationships".
The report also highlighted "significant" spending on donor acknowledgement over the three years, including €61,571 at the Galway Races and €9,750 on rugby tickets.
While the inspector noted that the charity appears "in many respects...to be a well-run organisation", improvements can be made regarding the use of taxis and an increasing the distinction between charitable and university business.
Charities Regulator CEO Helen Martin said: "“The report contains points of learning for all charities and we would encourage those who are responsible for the management and administration of charities to read the full text of the report.
“The mission of the Charities Regulator is to regulate the charity sector in the public interest so as to ensure compliance with the law and support best practice in the governance, management and administration of charities."
She said: "As a regulator, we are keen to support charities in their efforts to comply with their legal obligations and standards of good governance.”