Nov 30, 2012 News Comments Off on Auditor General begins probe into NDIA’s fraud allegations
– Not in possession of report or CEO’s response
The Auditor General’s Office has commenced investigations into fraud allegations against senior officials of the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) that surfaced in the media via a leaked report compiled by the entity’s Field Auditor.
According to the Auditor General, Deodat Sharma, based on a conversation with the Chairman of NDIA Board Dharamkumar Seeraj and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture George Jervis and because this is a topical issue in the press, he decided to begin his investigations.
However, he is not in possession of the Field Auditor’s report and the head of NDIA’s response that were submitted to Seeraj.
In mid-October 2012, NDIA’s Field Auditor in a report sent to President Donald Ramotar and Seeraj accused the entity’s Chief Executive Officer, Lionel Wordsworth and the Senior Section Engineer, Aneel Chowbay, of being involved in corrupt practices. The Field Auditor recommended the duo’s dismissal.
The report speaks of conflict of interest and sole sourcing of services such as the supply of fuel and the awarding of contracts to relatives of senior NDIA operatives, in breach of national procurement procedures.
NDIA deemed the report as “mischievous, misleading and aimed at damaging the image of the Authority for personal gains and aspirations”.
Because the auditor skipped protocol by sending the damning report to Ramotar, he was subsequently sent on leave.
According to Sharma, as part of the investigations, contracts issued in 2011 and 2012 by the entity will be reviewed. In addition, focus will be placed on sole sourcing of services to ascertain if there were breaches in the procurement procedures.
The Auditor General related that he is uncertain when the investigations will conclude, owing to the magnitude of work to be done. He assured that his investigations will be done impartially and emphasized that no one can control him.
Sharma said that he prides himself in doing thorough investigations and would have liked to see the report and response from the entity’s head.
Seeraj had indicated that he would have sent the report and the CEO’s response to the Auditor General for further review since he (Seeraj) is not an auditor. Seeraj emphasized that it is unfortunate that the investigations conducted by the Field Auditor did not follow the normal procedure from the inception. He noted that the auditor should have sent the document to the department head to respond to the issues.
Region Four Chairman and member of NDIA Board, Clement Corlette, also criticized the move by the auditor to send the initial report to President Ramotar, bypassing the Minister of Agriculture and other Directors of the NDIA Board.
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