Sep 27, 2016 News
Forensic Auditor, Christopher Ram is now denying that he tried to shield his clients when reporting about the audit his accounting firm—Ram and McRae—carried out into the affairs of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU).
Ram, who is also known as an anti-corruption advocate, said that his firm has a reputation of trying to keep clients in check so he cannot understand why such an allegation would be leveled against him.
He said, “I do not try to protect any client; if a client does wrong we let them know. We are often accused of working for the tax department.”
NFMU is claiming that Ram and McRae willfully shaped the audit in a particular way and went beyond trying to protect a client—Stabroek TV Inc. NFMU said that Ram deliberately left out information about Stabroek TV.
When originally contacted about the allegation leveled against him, Ram admitted that Stabroek TV is a client of his. But when asked why he did not include the issue in his report, Ram only told Kaieteur News, “Go read the audit (report).”
However, Ram, the auditor, has since offered an explanation but his story is a bit confusing and contradictory. On one hand Ram is saying that he could not have pointed out Stabroek’s debt because it is client information that he did not see on NFMU’s books. But, on the other, he is saying that he is the one that pointed out the debt to NFMU.
The auditor said that NFMU is to be blamed for Stabroek TV Inc’s non appearance in the audit.
Ram said, “They do not have it in their records. Actually, it is I who whispered to the man how come, because if it is not in their records I cannot go and talk about it on what I know from one client to another.”
The Auditor continued, “Quite frankly it is indeed a lot of money, they (the NFMU) are careless. What (Valmikki Singh) should have done was immediately go and do his work. What he is now doing is admitting that his register was so bad. But I could not use information we had from the Stabroek TV audit to go and say ‘Look, Stabroek TV say they have so much in the books. That’s the problem; it was not in their (NFMU’s) books.”
NFMU said that the Stabroek TV issue was pointed out to Ram and McRae and the company still refused to include this in the audit report.
Asked if this was indeed the case, Ram responded in the negative. He said, “That is his (Singh) dishonesty, we pointed it out to him but we cannot say that. We have actually said to the client y’all have a liability and the client made a provision. But these people don’t have it in the books.”
NFMU made the allegation against Ram as the unit tried to defend one of the issues raised in the audit.
Ram and McRae presented a damning report in 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.
The report said, “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 favour 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 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, owe 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.
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