China Hub consultant reimbursed for $192,000 in expenses -

China Hub consultant reimbursed for $192,000 in expenses

(KMOV) -- London Export is the lead consultant for the China Hub project. The London-based company is often described as an "ice-breaker" in relations between the west and China.

Under a U.S. government grant, London Export is paid $450,000 a year. The Midwest China Hub Commission has not requested an audit to examine how the consultant spends any of that grant money, even though it has the authority to do so, according to London Export's contract. In addition to that lucrative contract, London Export gets reimbursed for its expenses relating to work on the China Hub project.

News 4 examined hundreds of records showing London Export's expenses. Documents obtained from the Midwest China Hub Commission show London Export was reimbursed for about $192,000 in expenses during the last 2 years.

Here is a link for 6 pages of expenses. Sometimes, expenses were paid with federal tax money. In other cases, the expenses were covered by the public/private mix of funds provided by the Hub Commission.

On one trip in 2011, Stephen Perry, London Export's Managing Director, flew first class from London to Beijing, from Beijing to Shanghai, from Shanghai to Hong Kong, and from Hong Kong back to London. The trip cost $14,890, according to Midwest China Hub Commission documents.  

The Hub Commission issued a statement in response to our request for comment:

"Under certain circumstances, non grant funds were used for first-class travel for Stephen Perry. The effort to secure an international cargo hub was extremely complex and culturally sensitive. The Midwest-China Hub Commission believes that the success of the entire project hinged to a significant degree on Mr. Perry’s and LEC’s personal and political connections in China, and first class travel, under certain circumstances, was a necessary cost to accomplish this objective.  This decision is validated by the landing of the first international cargo flight at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport this Friday afternoon.  No federal funds were used for first-class travel."

News 4 has also obtained copies of expenses for Spectrum, the consultant paid $15,000 a month in federal grant money to manage the Midwest China Hub Commission. I'll try to review those records tomorrow and update this blog.

You can also follow me on Twitter @CheathamKMOV. I frequently update investigations on Twitter and often provide links to stories.

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