FIVE members of staff at Edinburgh City Council were suspended from their posts yesterday in the wake of a multi-million pound fraud investigation, The Scotsman can reveal.
One employee had already been suspended over the probe into alleged irregularities involving repair work ordered to be carried out on historic buildings.
It is thought the property conservation workers are being investigated over claims that that contracts were awarded without being put out to tender, repairs were overpriced and work was not up to the required standard.
The council called in Lothian and Borders Police to help with its investigation after an internal review was launched in June.
About 3,000 statutory repair notices are served on properties each year and the council's property conservation team is handling 966 projects with a value of more than 30 million.
A council spokeswoman said: "An external expert has been appointed to undertake these investigations and will work closely with the council's internal audit team and Lothian and Borders Police.
"The investigation will cover possible breaches of codes of practice as well as more general, operational concerns about the service."
Mark Turley, the council's director of services for communities, said: "The complaints being looked at are potentially of a very serious nature.
"We're determined to ensure that they are investigated independently as a matter of urgency to allow the service to move forward."