Development company review after expenses reports

image captionInternational Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has ordered a review of the CDC's work

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell has ordered a review of the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation after reports of lavish expenses claims.

A government spokesman said Mr Mitchell thought the claims were "unacceptable".

It came after the Daily Mail claimed it had seen large restaurant, hotel and taxi bills from CDC officials, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

A spokesman for the CDC said the report included many mistakes.

The CDC, which is owned but not run by the Department for International Development, helps provide finance to businesses in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Ash cloud

The Mail claims executives have run up big bills at some of London's finest restaurants and hotels, including a £700 dinner for CDC non-executive directors at the Michelin-starred L'Autre Pied restaurant.

But a CDC spokesman said the story contained mistakes and a £300 claim for a taxi from Brussels to Paris was made because flights were halted by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

He added that the CDC's policy was to ensure all expenses were reasonable.

Confirming the review, a government spokesman said: "Lavish expenses are completely unacceptable. The Secretary of State has set up a review of all aspects of CDC's work, including pay and remuneration."

Last year the Public Accounts committee criticised the ineffective oversight of the company after reports that the salary of its chief executive Richard Laing had risen to £970,000. He has since taken a pay cut and waived bonuses.

The BBC's political correspondent Carole Walker said the story would be embarrassment to the international development secretary, who has had his budget spared from cuts.

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