May 14, 2016 News
By Kiana A. Wilburg
The Board members of various entities will have the opportunity to decide the course of action that will be
taken on the damning findings of the forensic audits launched by the APNU/AFC administration.
This is according to Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan.
Yesterday, Ramjattan recalled that there was a sub-committee which was established to examine the various forensic audit reports.
He said that the sub-committee consisted of himself, Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams and Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma. The Minister noted that the sub-committee was initially tasked with the responsibility to go through the reports with an aim to determine which deal mainly with administrative irregularities and which enter the realm of criminality.
The Parliamentarian said that the matters of an administrative nature would require disciplinary action against those at fault, while those of a criminal nature will be forwarded to the police for further investigations.
Ramjattan maintained that it would be too burdensome to just hand the reports over to the police only to find that some reports speak only to administrative improprieties.
The Minister said, however, that the Boards of the audited entities will now have a chance to examine the said reports to decide on what will be the outcome. He believes that it is important for the Boards not to be left out of the equation and for them to have a say in what is the way forward on prosecution and administrative decisions that need to be taken.
The Public Security Minister asserted, “I have recommended that all reports go to the Board so that they can have a say regarding the forensic audits and determine whether they see prosecution as necessary. We should not exclude the Board even though a sub-committee was given the responsibility to make certain determinations.”
He added, “I have been asked by some of the Boards to look at some of the reports in light of my previous association with criminal law. About four or five I have agreed should go to the police for further investigations.”
Asked to say what those reports are, Ramjattan said he could not reveal that at this point.
It was in May that the Granger-led administration began expending some $133M of taxpayers’ dollars on 45 of the 50 forensic audits to ascertain how the assets of the state were sold, disposed of or transferred under the previous administration.
The remaining five audits were sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Several audits were also launched in July while others started in later weeks. While the report on NICIL has been completed for months now with criminal proceedings are still to take shape. Those on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) have been completed for a longer period.
Most of the forensic audits have unearthed several hidden accounts, with billions of dollars.
The forensic audit into the NFMU has unearthed some of the “most appalling acts of corruption”, said Junior Finance Minister, Jaipaul Sharma.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Sharma said, “There was just no proper management at this unit. There were instances where you could see that they just lost out on millions of dollars’ worth in fees that they should have ensured they collected. There were some defaulters as well, and the agency just took no action against them.”
“(NFMU) could have collected a lot more revenue. Instead (the entity) allowed a lot of favouritism to take place and as such they lost, I would say, millions of dollars in revenue.
“They allowed their big PPP boys to slip under the radar while others were called upon to pay their dues. In fact, they weren’t collecting from two of their PPP big boys for some time. It was a lot of unfairness that was going on at that agency.”
Sharma had said, “The level of corruption which was taking place at the agency points to the incompetency of those who are managing it.”
The Junior Finance Minister said that the revelations of some of the forensic audits thus far, vindicate the concerns the APNU+AFC had regarding the lack of accountability under the previous administration as well as the stench of corruption in some agencies.
As for the forensic audit launched into the EPA, Sharma who is in charge of the audits, revealed that this has been completed since August. He had said that the audit uncovered that the entity has been holding some 15 accounts with over $400M.
Kaieteur News understands that recommendations were made for the monies to be transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
The Forensic audit revealed that the agency was apparently receiving monies from various agencies and opening a new account every time it received large sums.
Sharma explained that the agency should not have done that. He said that it should have held one account and categorized its expenses.
The Environmental Protection Agency was established on World Environment Day, June 5, 1996. It was on this date that the then Acting President of Guyana, Samuel Hinds, assented to Environmental Protection Act (No 11, 1996).
The Act mandates the Agency to oversee the effective management, conservation, protection and improvement of the environment.
It also requires that the Agency take the necessary measures to ensure the prevention and control of pollution, assessment of the impact of economic development on the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources.
The Agency’s work enables Guyana to contribute to global and national environmental protection and conservation.
As part of its work the EPA implements education, regulation and enforcement programmes and uses partnership and collaborative approaches to strengthen the impact of its interventions.
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