Thursday, 4 June 2009

Romans Brought Expenses Fiddles to UK

Ancient Roman accounting tablets suggest public officials were involved in a range of expenses fiddles 2,000 years ago to equal – if not surpass - the current MPs House of Conman’s scandals.

Writing tablets of wood and hide uncovered near Hadrian's Wall - built across northern England to keep out the feral clans of Caledonian ladymen clad in tartan skirts - detail countless numbers of expenses claimed by Roman officials.

More than four hundred tablets were discovered at the site and are some of the earliest examples of business and personal expenses being fiddled in Britain by government officials.

One of the translated tablets contains incriminating details of ‘entertainment’ claims at the fortified Roman garrison of Colonia Rippus Offus, close to the Scottish border.
The items expensed include balcony tickets for a title-holder ‘fight to the death’ contest between nude female gladiators.
Cost - 10 denari each – including chariot parking, cloakroom charges, a haunch of roast venison and a free mug of ‘Old Druid’ Headbanger mead.

The wooden writing tablets - which date from the 2nd Century AD – include expenses for arrowheads, Hibernian catamites, haggis traps, chariot wheels, ears of grain, hobnails for boots, dog oil, bread, cereals, lead ore, peasant scourges, knicker elastic, leather hides and hump-backed pigs.

Professor Ghengis McScrunt, who translated the tablets from the classical Latin, states they detail hundreds of expense claims and "lavish parties" held for the upper ranks - with gold denari being spent freely on woad-painted whores of Iceni and Celtic tribal stock.

"Officers were paid very well - they could purchase goods duty free so they would often fiddle expenses by buying properties at a cut price then selling them on and not declaring capital gains tax – a bit like Hazel Blears."

The wooden tablets, which are preserved at Jack’s Car Boot & Pikey Emporium in Smegmadale, depict a business letter written by a money-lending entrepreneur referred to as “Mithias the scrounging Jew” who was supplying goods to a Roman general named as Barclayus Bankus.

It reads: "As to the three hundredweight of pig’s foreskins from Morocco - I will settle up this account when you send me the five aureus and seven sisteri owed as payment.”
"I have written to you several times that I will need denari up front for further transactions as I have the bailiffs knocking on my cave door every day now.”
“If you do not pay your bill forthwith I will have to file for Chapter Eleven and declare bankruptcy.”

Candida Muffitch, a senior brickwork pointer at Hadrian's Wall Heritage, told a reporter from the Cormorant Stranglers Gazette "The tablets show desperate pleas by money lenders and chandlers officials so I think the Roman legions were quite tight with their money – unless spending it on personal pleasures."

“However, with the case in question, certain supplementary notes and references suggest that Mithias the Jew had been put on a payments stop list for supplying "dodgy" goods – quite possibly the shipment of pig’s foreskins.”

She said punishment against officials caught fiddling their expenses was a "matter of luck as accountants and auditors were spread pretty thin across the empire."
"If you were ranked highly you might just be sent off to exile somewhere nasty – like Ireland - but if you were poorer, or further down the ranks, you might get the chop – or even assigned to stoning and crucifixion duties in Judea.”

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