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Bank of England under fire for expenses

London

FLIGHT costs amounting to £11,000 (S$19,769) and more than £400 pounds in taxi bills have been cited as evidence that the Bank of England (BOE) needs to review its spending and not undermine public trust.

Simon Clarke, a Conservative Party lawmaker, said the figures had "disturbing echoes" of a scandal that rocked the UK Parliament in 2009.

The BOE said in a statement later that the figures cited were aggregated in its documents and covered two trips and six taxi journeys. The questions from Mr Clarke related to travel expenses submitted by external Financial Policy Committee members Anil Kashyap and Donald Kohn, totalling £390,000 over the past 21/2 years.

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At the appointment hearing for the new chair of the BOE's Court of Directors on Tuesday, Mr Clarke also listed the costs of the central bank's summer party and sports ground. He said his constituents would be "gobsmacked" at the amount of money spent by the American economists on flights and cars to attend meetings in London.

Court head Bradley Fried said the BOE's policy is to fly business class and he would investigate and report back to lawmakers. "There's been a tremendous contribution made" by the policy makers, he said. "I can't quite work out a formulaic assessment of value for money against their participation versus the travel expenses, but I hear exactly what you're saying."

Mr Clarke also highlighted the £100,000 spent on the central bank's annual summer party in 2016.

This isn't the first time the central bank has faced scrutiny over its spending. Following a freedom-of-information request, it last year published a selection of 2015 receipts for Governor Mark Carney's credit card transactions, which ranged from hotels at the World Economic Forum in Davos to two Greek yogurts at Heathrow airport.

Drawing comparisons to Parliament's previous expenses regime, which ultimately sparked a scandal where hundreds of law makers were criticised for reimbursements they had sought from the public purse, Mr Clarke suggested the costs he had identified were "unconscionable."

While there was no suggestion that any BOE claims were unlawful, he suggested the spending wasn't providing the best value for money for UK taxpayers. There is "something awry with the culture that allows this kind of spending," he said. BLOOMBERG