Probe into £23m property deal is like 'a vendetta', says ex-deputy leader
- Credit: Haringey Council / Google Streetview
A Haringey councillor objected to a further investigation into a controversial property deal, likening it to “a vendetta”.
Kaushika Amin objected to a second audit into the purchase of Alexandra House during a corporate committee meeting on July 15.
Earlier this year, the Ham&High revealed the council had missed an opportunity to buy the Wood Green office block.
A property tycoon then set up a shell company, which secured the option to buy it.
When the council decided to buy Alexanda House after all, it had to buy that shell company, which councillors described as “worthless”.
The price of the shell company was £6million, which one auditor likened to a “ransom”.
The total cost was almost £23m. Auditors have since valued the block at £10m.
The corporate committee was told earlier this year that a former council officer appeared to have turned down the block without consulting senior officers or councillors, resulting in the increased cost.
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But members felt there were “unanswered questions", particularly around why the council then went so far in the other direction and paid so much.
They requested a further audit.
When the issue was raised last Thursday, former deputy council leader Cllr Amin said: “I wasn’t in this committee then. Other people were obviously in the committee and had concerns. I don’t have those concerns and I feel I am reasonably informed about this matter.”
Chairman Peter Mitchell said: “I would have thought every member of this committee – indeed, every member of the council – would be concerned about the issues around the purchase of Alexandra House.
“It attracted, unfortunately, a lot of negative publicity. Therefore, it is important that as a local authority we are clear about what happened.
“The previous committee said that they would like to see a follow-up audit, so I think we should do that and we should have this on the agenda.”
When Cllr Mitchell said he was moving on, Cllr Amin said: “Can you minute my opposition to that, and also my concerns that this is just being pursued in a vendetta manner?”
“There is no question of a vendetta,” Cllr Mitchell said.
The scope of the second investigation is due to be discussed at the next meeting, on September 9.
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