FOI release

Use of government credit cards

Use of goverment credit cards

Document

Details

Request

  • Number of staff in your department caught using government credit cards for personal transactions over the past five years?
  • A full list of illegitimate transactions including the nature of each item, the cost and the date.
  • Please state the disciplinary action taken.
  • Have any of these members of staff been subject to criminal investigation over their use of government credit cards?
  • Any documents, letters, emails or memos concerning the misuse of government credit cards which are held by the department.

Text for disclosure

There have been fewer than five cases of government card misuse in the last five years. As the Treasury is a small department, our policy is to not disclose data related to numbers of staff lower than an amount that would make identification of individuals easy. Such a release would constitute a release of personal data, and be exempt under s40 of the Act.

We also consider that details of illegitimate transactions would engage the exemptions at Section 40(2) for the reasons above, and at section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act as disclosure of the information in these could prejudice “the prevention or detection of crime”. Section 31(1)(a) is a qualified exemption and we are required to weigh the public interest in disclosure against that in withholding it.

We acknowledge that it is in the public’s interest to demonstrate that the Treasury has identified the actual and potential fraud and risks associated with the use of government credit cards and that appropriate steps are taken to monitor this. However, we also consider that there are significant risks in this information becoming public knowledge. Details of how the frauds were carried out through the release of the types of transaction could be useful to anyone seeking to perpetrate similar crime. We believe that the public interest is best served in withholding this information.

HM Treasury takes all breaches of its expected Standards of Conduct and the Civil Service Code of Conduct very seriously. Misuse of Government Procurement Cards is considered a Disciplinary Offence and such incidences are dealt with accordingly in line with the Departments ‘Dispute Resolution Policy’. The process is: thoroughly investigating the alleged offence, determining whether a formal hearing is necessary, if so, holding a formal hearing where the individual has the opportunity to state their case, and then, determining the outcome, which, if proven, will involve a range of disciplinary sanctions. No criminal investigations were undertaken. All the money was recovered at no cost to the tax payer.

We consider most of the information in relation to part 5 of your request to also engage the exemptions above as it relates to the individual cases.

Published 9 August 2011
Last updated 18 July 2013 + show all updates
  1. Updated policy document July 2013
  2. First published.