Three staff have been suspended after an inquiry was launched into the handling of contracts at a Highland Council depot, the Press and Journal can reveal.
The investigation is centred on the local authority’s building maintenance facility at Alness in Ross-shire.
It is believed that the three staff – including two senior personnel – were suspended almost a fortnight ago.
The inquiry is thought to be focussed on the issuing of work to council sub-contractors and the handling of invoices.
There are understood to be further allegations relating to stock at the council store at Alness.
One source suggested the probe related to tens of thousands of pounds.
Last night, a spokeswoman for Highland Council confirmed that an inquiry had been launched by the authority.
“We can confirm that there is an ongoing internal audit investigation taking place regarding sub-contracting procedures within the building maintenance depot in Alness,” she said.
The spokeswoman added: “We, are, therefore, unable to comment further on these matters at this time.”
She said that it was an “internal investigation” and she would not comment on the reported suspensions.
The police said yesterday that they were not investigating the allegations at this stage.
The Press and Journal understands that council officials visited the Alness depot a fortnight ago, took the keys from the suspended staff and asked them to leave the premises.
A local authority source last night confirmed that three members of staff at the base had been sent home pending the investigation.
A retired police officer was said to have been recruited by another section of the council to oversee the running of the Alness depot during the investigation.
The Alness depot serves joiners and plumbers and other tradespeople who maintain council buildings.
The depot was one of four areas of the Highlands to promote a building maintenance apprenticeship scheme two years ago, along with other council facilities in Inverness, Fort William and Dornoch.