A Labour MP has called on One Connect Limited to open its books to public scrutiny over £500,000 payments made to a former boss.
Auditors have revealed David McElhinney did not receive his annual £40,000 council salary as the head of the partnership between BT and Lancashire County Council, from May 2011 to March 2013.
A council report showed Mr McElhinney, who resigned in August, instead received remuneration and bonus payments agreed by One Connect Limited (OCL) of £231,709 in June and £275,888 in July.
An inquiry was launched as the payments were made without the knowledge of the County Treasurer, or the current Labour administration.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said OCL had operated in secrecy, with contract details hidden “under the guise of commercial confidentiality”.
She said: “I am absolutely incensed at the eye-watering sums of money Mr McElhinney appears to have been paid.
“All this money for two and a half days per week, with public money and little accountability. I have called for greater openness and transparency around OCL’s operations.
“It is after all funded by the council taxpayers of Lancashire. They deserve to know how their money is being spent and if they are getting value.
“It doesn’t look like a good deal when you compare it to the chief executive’s package and we don’t know what profit BT is making.”
She said the former council leader, Tory Geoff Driver, had “dismissed any questions” she raised about OCL.
She said: “He claimed I didn’t understand the deal. How could I? The details were kept secret. I have said repeatedly that Geoff Driver, as the former council leader who signed the deal, has serious questions to answer.
“It strikes me as a peculiar business arrangement where an employee doesn’t take any salary for over two years and then is paid in two large payments one month apart.
“I think it is now time for the books to be opened on OCL and let’s see what mess the previous administration left for the people of Lancashire.”
However, Coun Driver said: “I have often criticised Ms Cooper for not understanding sometimes the simplest matters concerning LCC, but on this occasion, although she has typically rushed to make a party political point, she can be excused because the report to which she refers is deliberately misleading. OCL is not “funded by the people of Lancashire” as Ms Cooper suggests.
“On the contrary, OCL saves the people of Lancashire in excess of £10m each year.
“Nor does LCC pay Mr McElhinney’s salary, which is determined and fully funded by BT.”