A report carried out by Grant Thornton has confirmed that broadcaster Ryan Tubridy’s earnings for the years 2017 to 2019 were publicly understated by €120,000 due to “adjustments” made by RTÉ’s financial department.
The report suggests that, on the balance of probabilities, adjustments were made for the three years in order to allow for “revised earnings” below a figure of €500,000 in each year.
It highlights poor governance practices at the national broadcaster – including significant deficiencies in internal-management controls, failures in the finance function, and a lack of communication from the executive to the board.
The board of RTÉ said that the report had made it clear that neither Tubridy nor his agent, NK Management, had had any involvement in the adjustments for the period 2017-2019.
It added that there had been “no impact” on RTÉ’s financial statements as a result of the adjustments.
Exit fee waived
The report said that Tubridy had waived his entitlement to an ‘exit fee’ of €120,000 on expiry of a 2015 contract.
It stated that the finance department believed that it could offset the waived exit fee against a supposed refund of fees from “undelivered services” over the period of the contract.
It said, however, that no such refund was due to the broadcaster.
The report found “several failures” that contributed to the misstatement of earnings. It identified the core issue as changes that were made to a draft agreement provided by NK Management to RTÉ that were “not properly detected, assessed, nor understood by key individuals in the RTÉ finance team” during March and April 2020.
‘Siloed’ management culture
Siún Ní Raghallaigh (chair of RTÉ) stated: “Regrettably, this report confirms our view of the siloed management culture that has prevailed in RTÉ, and supports the decision by the board to initiate an ongoing programme of corrective action.
She said that the report painted a picture of poor internal communication and weak processes.
“The report identifies specific dates whereby errors could have been corrected, but were not, and key documents that could have been effectively interrogated, but were not,” Ní Raghallaigh stated.
“It is also clear from the report that the then executive did not properly engage with the board on these matters, nor was relevant information provided to the board by the executive or by the auditors,” she continued.
The RTÉ chair added that the board would be engaging with the broadcaster’s auditors, Deloitte, to discuss the contents of the report.