Jul 09, 2016 News
“It is not within my power to decide what to do in this case,” said Dr. Richard Van West- Charles when asked how the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) is addressing the findings of the forensic audit; particularly those relating to blatant fraud perpetuated by Shaik Baksh.
Dr. Van West- Charles is GWI’s Chief Executive Office (CEO). Baksh is his predecessor.
Baksh, who was sent home shortly after the new administration took office, last year, has been recommended to face disciplinary actions. Auditors also recommended actions against other officers where applicable in accordance to GWI policy and procedures.
The audit report said in several instances that Baksh breached established company policies and procedures and abused his authority while executing his functions.
Asked how the GWI is dealing with all that has been revealed, Dr. Van West-Charles said that this is all in the hands of the Board. “The Board will have to deal with it,” he said.
The GWI boss said that each department has been asked to produce a report based on the findings of the audit where applicable.
Dr. Van West-Charles said that those reports have already been prepared and submitted. The reports will then be handed to the Board soonest.
Dr. Van West-Charles said that within two to three weeks the Board will meet and discuss how it will proceed. However he said that he “doubts” that anyone who has been fingered in the audit report is still on the job.
The Board will have to decide whether it wants to follow up Baksh’s actions in the court or explore other possible options. But Dr. Van West-Charles sought to make it clear that that decision is not within his authority.
Baksh’s transgressions “include misappropriation of cash advances for sites visits, abuse of authority in using the company assets, overriding company policies etc,” the audit report disclosed.
The legitimacy of expenses and field trips could not have been verified since bills produced did not provide any contact information for the persons issuing same; no other official from GWI was stated accompanying the Chief Executive on the claimed official visits; and the purposes of the visits were not stated, the report said.
Baksh submitted a claim for US$400 ($84,000) on an invoice for “Hire of taxi Piarco – POS San Fernando Chaguanas/ POS”. This was to clear advance of $105,000 taken on September 4, 2014.
Auditors stated, “We were informed that neither the Board of Directors nor senior management was aware of this visit.”
Another case had Baksh submitting bills dated December 4, 2014 totaling $200,000. “These were proven to be fictitious as security logs showed that the Chief Executive was at Head Office instead of the locations claimed.”
Auditors also flagged an advance Baksh took days before the General Elections, on April 30, 2015, for $300,000. It was for visits to Upper Pomeroon Region and Santa Rosa and Villages in Moruca Sub Region.
Baksh’s employment contract dated September 17, 2012 does not provide for compensation for medical expenses.
However, an instance was noted where monies were reimbursed for a “claimed” on the job accident.
“This accident was never reported to the Occupational Health and Safety Officer or the Human Resources Department nor was there any accident report prepared to justify payments. The total value amounted to $29,000 which was approved by the Management Accountant, S. Tiwari and paid on April 24, 2015.”
There were other “medical” bills submitted by Baksh.
There were also instances where Baksh received refunds for entertainment.
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