The most outrageous business expense claims from across the globe

(3) The expense claim that brought an affair to light

UK lawyer, and probably up until the point of his expenses claim – happily married, Christopher Grierson blew more than £600,000 to install his lover in a New York apartment and shower her with cash and gifts during an 18-month affair.

His barrister, Mark Ellison, said that in 2005 Grierson resorted to using call girls “as a means of escape and a source of some sort of affection”. He added: “In January 2006, he entered a totally different league. He became infatuated with a Lebanese woman in New York. He spent £630,000 paying rent on an apartment and paying over £280,000 to her in cash.”

The liaison ended after his Brazilian second wife found out, but Grierson was left mired in debt and resorted to stealing from his employers, international law firm Hogan Lovells, by submitting false travel expense claims.

Grierson was jailed for three years after admitting four counts of fraud at London’s Southwark Crown Court.



(4) The MP that wanted to tune his piano

In 2009, Douglas Hogg, the UK’s former agriculture secretary, submitted a claim of roughly $3,000 for the clearing of a moat surrounding his country estate. He also put in $22,000 for a full-time housekeeper, the car she drove, work done on his stables and even the tuning of his piano. 

He even admitted in a letter to the House of Commons in 2003 that his expenses were so high that he couldn’t submit receipts for each item as MPs were required to do.

Hogg said all of his claims had been made with the prior agreement of the House of Commons Fees Office. And while he did include the moat on a list of expenses submitted to the authorities, he maintained that he never wanted taxpayers to foot that part of the bill.


(5) The floating duck island

But let’s not forget MP Peter Viggers’ famous floating duck island expenses claim. The floating structure, almost 5ft high and designed to provide protection for the birds, was actually based on an 18th-century building in Sweden. 

The receipt, from a firm specialising in bird pavilions, said: “Price includes three anchor blocks, duck house and island.”

His expenses files reveal that he was paid more than £30,000 of taxpayers’ money for “gardening” over three years, including nearly £500 for 28 tons of manure.

Viggers also submitted a £213.95 electrician’s bill including fixing lights on a “fountain” and “hanging lights on Christmas tree”. The annual costs Viggers had submitted in 2008 came to £24,164.96. He asked for part of that to be paid under a separate office costs allowance. They included £6,960 on gardening, £1,800 on grass cutting and estate management, £533.23 on garden design, £460 on pest control, and £250 on irrigation. He submitted “sample invoices” of £782.50 and £750.

Having proper guidelines in place is critical to maintaining control on spend when it comes to employee expenses. Here are ten tips to help you.

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