Accountants to examine EBRD outlay

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The Independent Online
THE AUDIT committee of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development yesterday appointed Coopers & Lybrand, the accounting firm, to help in its investigation of the bank's lavish refurbishment of its London headquarters.

Coopers would be given a 'comprehensive mandate' to assess the pounds 55.5m cost and the procedures used during the refitting to ensure that value for money was obtained and that 'payments were made in regular and proper fashion', the committee said.

The committee, established by the EBRD board representing the bank's shareholding governments after last month's disclosures on refurbishment costs, said Coopers would take into account the EBRD's operational needs and accommodation standards for comparable organisations.

The accountants would also examine the arrangements for reporting to the board during the fitting out of the headquarters - a particular bone of contention between the board and Jacques Attali, the bank's president.

Coopers' review will form the basis of the committee's report to the board in mid-July. The committee will also investigate the use of private charter jets by Mr Attali at a reported cost of pounds 748,000 in 1992, and reports that every charter was made by Air Entreprise, a French company.

The committee is to examine the French Government's provision free of charge of a Paris flat for Mr Attali. The EBRD yesterday described this as office facilities, set up and financed by the French Government after the bank was established in 1990.

Coopers' appointment coincided with the bank's assertion that it had committed ecu378m (pounds 293m) in loans with a further ecu150m earmarked. It was responding to criticism that it might fail to meet its target of committing ecu2bn-2.5bn in 1993.