-took money for entertainment to which he was not entitled
-instructed payment be made to persons not working at Go-Invest
-Bought mobile phones for outsiders
-took millions of dollars in personal loans without approval
By Kiana Wilburg
Former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Guyana Office for Investment, Keith Burrowes,
always had a plaster for every sore criticism of mismanagement, especially when it came from the press.
However, a forensic audit recently showed that Burrowes was just as harmful to the company as to those he often accused.
Not only did he abuse his authority and treated the company like his private business but Burrowes acted as though Go-Invest was his personal piggy bank.
According to the audit report which was released by the Ministry of Finance on Friday, the former CEO took personal loans amounting to over $3M without approval from the Board. The auditors noted however that those monies were returned February last year.
The forensic auditors also stressed that the former CEO was not entitled to an entertainment allowance or salary advance(s) from Go-Invest since his salary was funded from Guyana National Co-operative Bank/Guyana Co-operative Financial Services.
Be that as it may, Mr. Burrowes still went ahead and authorized and received an entertainment allowance for himself totalling $480,000, without the approval of the Board of Directors.
Compounding the issue of misuse of authority was the fact that Burrowes instructed that his personal driver, Mr. Nigel Gordon, be paid a sum of $232,365 for carrying out duties as a driver. This is in spite of the fact that this “personal driver” was not a Go-Invest employee.
The forensic auditors found that this instruction was given by a Memorandum dated December 22, 2014 and executed the following day.
It was also discovered that there was no clear policy at Go Invest for remuneration of employees. Burrowes dealt with this process in a “discretionary” manner.
Furthermore, Burrowes made it seem as though his Human Resources Officer was redundant. In this regard, forensic auditors found that the hiring function was conducted in an ad hoc manner thus allowing the former CEO to solely make hiring decisions.
In fact, Burrowes sourced applicants, invited and conducted interviews for new people hired by him, instead of utilizing the Administrative Department. The interview committee comprising the CEO, Accountant/Personnel Officer and a Senior Investment Officer was rarely utilized. He also re-designated employees and fixed new allowances for them. The Accountant/Human Resources Officer/Administrative Officer had little or no input in the recruitment and selection process.
It was also discovered that repairs and maintenance of vehicles were performed by mechanics “sole sourced” by Burrowes instead of being tendered.
If that was not enough, Burrowes as CEO, expended over $1M on cell phones for senior staff, his personal driver and the Financial Consultant. This is in spite of the fact that his personal driver and one Financial Consultant were not employees of Go-Invest and therefore not entitled to such privileges.
The auditors concluded that Burrowes’s tenure at Go-Invest was one where ad hoc and peculiar decisions were made in several areas.
These include the issuing of a Memorandum of Understanding by an Investment Officer; sending Initial Investment proposals directly to the Minister of Finance instead of the Commissioner General of Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA); exclusively managing the recruitment, selection and hiring of staff, among others – all without the approval of his Board of Directors at the time.
Given the aforementioned, forensic auditors attached to Nigel Hinds Financial Services (NHFS) recommended that Go-Invest needs to develop a clear policy with regards to salary advances and loans, an area that has been without acceptable guiltiness during the audit review period.
They said that all outstanding staff advances should be recovered or cleared as specified by the terms of the loan agreement.
Additionally, the auditors were resolute on the decision that the unauthorized payments of $232,365 made to the personal driver of former CEO, Mr. Keith Burrowes should be recovered from him.
They said that unauthorized funds spent on cell phones for Burrowes’s personal driver and Financial Consultant, Ms. Patricia Harris who were not employees of Go-Invest, should be recovered from Mr. Burrowes.
The forensic auditors said that advances taken to procure materials for the entity should be timely and properly cleared. They said that only in exceptional circumstances should honour certificates be entertained.
It was also recommended that there needs to be a clearly defined policy to manage outstanding procurement advances, especially to officers who are requesting additional procurement advances.
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