‘Your government is making the same mistakes again’: Welsh Tory Leader questions First Minister over investment fund manager Neil Woodford

Paul Davies AM has used today’s First Minister’s Questions to ask Mark Drakeford about how careful the Welsh Government is being to protect Welsh taxpayers’ money.

Mr Davies began by reminding the First Minister of his promise six weeks ago to publish a report looking into the Welsh Government’s failed investment of £1million for Kukd.com.

The online food ordering site received the large grant from the Welsh Government to expand the business and create 100 jobs, but after promised jobs failed to materialise, a Welsh Government investigation into how the money was spent was announced in September 2016.

Despite the passing of almost three years, we’re no closer to seeing the resulting report and the First Minister did little to answer his opposition’s concerns today, stating the document was still going through clearances.

The Welsh Conservative Leader also challenged Mr Drakeford over recently reported news that the £100million Welsh Life Sciences Fund is currently being managed by a firm linked to Neil Woodford, who hit the headlines this weekend over his involvement with fund’s management company Arix Bioscience.

Mr Davies repeated his party’s calls for transparency from the Welsh Labour Government, as he reminded Mr Drakeford of an Auditor General report from three years ago which labelled aspects of the fund’s establishment, governance, oversight and early operation as “flawed and poorly documented,” and concerns were raised over the way in which conflicts of interest were dealt with by the previous fund management company.

Questioning the First Minister in the chamber, Mr Davies said:

“First Minister, once again, it seems to me that your Government is failing to be transparent with the people of Wales.

“Why, therefore, following the report of the Auditor General, did your Government allow Arix Bioscience to take over the managing of the Life Science Investment Fund? And why did Finance Wales not learn their lesson and thoroughly scrutinise future investments? Because it seems to me that your Government is making the same mistake again.”