A report of a forensic auditor into the operations of the state-owned Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) between November 2011 and May 2015, has found problems with the system used to pay executives.
The report is now recommending that the new Board of Directors set clear guidelines for the operations of the Executive Payroll and ensure that both internal and external auditors are given access to all company documents for the purpose of conducting their audits.
Had proper systems been in place before, there would not have been a situation where former Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Aeshwar Deonarine, transferred around $30M to his personal overseas bank account without being authorised to do so.
Deonarine, who has since fled the jurisdiction and is said to be living in the US, is facing fraud charges in Guyana over that matter.
Forensic auditor, Nigel Hinds Financial Services, disclosed in its report that it examined the Executive Payroll for the period 2011 to 2014 and the bank accounts through which those payments were made.
“We noted that there was a lack of documentation – bank statements, returned cheques and debit memos to verify payments.”
For example, statements and other documents were not provided for the following years: Account # 654-441-5 -2011- for 10 months; 2012 – 8 months; 2013- 9 months and 2014- 9 months.
For Account # 2-091-7, in 2011, 2013 and 2014 there were no records for those years. There were, however, records for a mere two months in 2012 pertaining to transactions to that bank account.
Another account, # 483-332-3, saw auditors unable to access records for 11 months in 2012.
The situation was similar for Account # 688-743-4 where for 2012 only records for one month was available while 2013, there were some details for four months and in 2014, for three months.
It appeared that while spending was happening in the bank accounts, GPL appeared not keen in providing much details.
“We also noted that no bank reconciliation was provided for any of the accounts listed. Without reconciliations, it is difficult to determine whether these accounts were used for purposes intended.”
Auditors also examined the credit card used by former Chief Executive Officer, Bharat Dindyal, but found only two statements were provided for the year 2013 and four statements for 2014.
“We have not seen any policy document that specifies the limit and purposes for which the credit card should be used and the absence of the credit card statements makes it difficult to verify whether there was any abuse of authority,” the audit report said.
In some cases, GPL paid persons for being in executive positions, but no records verifying this could be found yet disbursements were made. The names of the two persons were Mark Yhann and Mohamed Baksh.
In other instances, auditors were unable to verify several requests for payments through the bank.
Bank request letters for disbursement were not available for some $22M in 2011. Benefitting were Dindyal, his deputy, Deonarine; Sabrina Rampersaud; Renford Homer (current CEO (ag)); Colin Singh (a director) and several persons whose names were not stated.
In 2012, almost $17M was paid out from the executive payrolls without the proper documentations. The same persons were involved.
The payments went up to $33.6M in 2013, with Dindyal receiving almost $20M in November alone.
“It is important to note that bank request letters are imperative to determine that all disbursements are properly authorized and consistent with management policies. It appears that the internal and external auditors were not given access to these accounts. Only those persons who were approved signatories apparently accessed these accounts,” the forensic audit report said.
The report is one of several that are in the hands of police for further investigations.
It will be recalled that on entering office in May 2015, the administration ordered forensic audits into several state entities to determine their financial health, among other things.
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