By Abena Rockcliffe
The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) is accusing forensic auditors attached to Ram and McRae of bias. The unit is claiming that the accounting agency willfully shaped the audit in a particular way and presented an inaccurate picture of the true picture at NFMU. Also, the NFMU is claiming that Ram and McRae shielded a client—Stabroek TV Inc. NFMU said that Ram deliberately left out information about the amount of money Stabroek owed.
When contacted about the allegation leveled against him, Christopher Ram admitted that Stabroek TV is a client of his. Asked why he did not include this in the report, Ram only told Kaieteur News, “Go read the audit.”
Ram and McRae presented a damning report of the forensic audit it conducted into the affairs of NFMU. Several bits of unflattering information were highlighted, including a number of instances of malpractice perpetuated by NFMU head, Valmikki Singh. So damning were the findings that the Ministry of Public Telecommunications is seeking legal advice on how to proceed.
“Our review of the files and documentation revealed that E-Networks Inc. and Quark Inc., companies controlled by persons with strong political connection to the PPP/C Administration, were not invoiced on a timely basis and ignored the NFMU’s invoices for long periods of time without any follow up action by the NFMU.”
NFMU has since denied the possibility that it has acted in favor of E-Networks and Quark Inc. and has more so denied that this has anything to do with those companies’ links to the PPP/C.
The unit said that by focusing only on Quark Inc. and E-Networks Inc., the Auditors presented a biased picture of the situation.
NFMU said that during discussions and within comments sent on the draft report on this same issue, it pointed out that it was having some difficulties in dealing with Stabroek TV Inc.
Stabroek TV is a client of Ram and McRae.
Stabroek TV owes NFMU an estimated $25M in outstanding fees for satellite terminal usage.
NFMU said that the auditors did not review the file for Stabroek TV Inc. nor did they mention it in their report.
“It is important to note that Stabroek TV Inc. is a competitor of both Quark and E-Networks.
Is this a case of conflict of interest for the Auditors? The Auditor also highlighted other spectrum users, which for one reason or another, owes monies to the NFMU. However, the Auditor did not assign a political bias, one way or the other, for the NFMU not going after the said debtors.
NFMU said that if the auditors were really interested in understanding the situation, they would have at the very least requested to see the files of other companies that provide similar services as Quark and E-Networks. These companies are Stabroek TV Inc. and Ali Broadacsting Inc.
The unit said that by not reviewing the Stabroek TV Inc. file, the Auditor relieved himself of determining whether Stabroek TV (Direct TV) service is being provided in contravention of the Broadcasting Act 2011.
“Stabroek TV Inc. is a direct to home satellite (television and audio broadcast) service
provider that has a coverage of the entire Guyana and Ali Broadcasting Inc. utilized 48
MHz of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band to provide television services in the Berbice
Area,” said NFMU.
NFMU also said that E-networks Inc. and Quark Communications Inc. could not have been invoiced for the usage of the 2.5 GHz band simply because a fee structure was not approved by the Minister.
NFMU said that it was “not comfortable with this situation and has raised it with the Minister on several occasions.”
However, the unit has taken the stance that whenever a fee structure is put in place, the two companies would be invoiced retroactively for the period that they have not paid any fees.
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