It was three years ago that the coalition administration triggered a series of forensic audits which resulted in the expenditure of $133M.
To date, Cabinet is still to review close to 20 of those outstanding audits. These include the reports for the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Lotto Fund.
Junior Minister of Finance, Jaipaul Sharma told Kaieteur News yesterday that Cabinet is still to get around to reviewing some of the audits. He noted however that nothing alarming came out of the audit reports such as the one on GGMC.
He said that in several cases, various issues were identified with the audit reports, where some auditors were limited in scope due to their inability to access certain documentation.
The Junior Finance Minister also noted that with the passage of the Whistleblower legislation, several persons have come forward to provide information on financial irregularities that were missed by the forensic auditors hired by the government.
Sharma said that where necessary, he shall be making recommendations for some of these matters to be further investigated by the relevant authorities.
It was in May 2015 that the Granger-led administration began expending millions of taxpayers’ dollars on 45 of its 50 forensic audits to ascertain how the assets of the state were sold, disposed of or transferred under the previous administration.
The remaining five audits were sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Some of the firms contracted to conduct the forensic audits included Nigel Hinds Financial Service, Ram and Mc Rae and HLB Seebarran and Co. Chartered Accountant Anand Goolsarran along with Harryman Parmesar were also contracted to conduct several forensic audits.
Nigel Hinds Financial Service audited agencies such as the Guyana Oil Company Limited (Guyoil), the Guyana Energy Agency (GEA) and the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest).
Ram and McRae audited the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Gold Board and the E-Governance Project among others.
Several audits were also launched in July 2015 while others started in later weeks of that year. While the report on NICIL for sometime now, criminal proceedings are still to take shape. Those on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) have been completed for a longer period.
The forensic audit into the NFMU has thus far unearthed “some of the most appalling acts of corruption”, according to Sharma.
Commenting on the findings of the report, Sharma said, “There was just no proper management at this unit. There were instances where you could see that they just lost out on millions of dollars’ worth in fees that they should have ensured they collected. There were some defaulters as well, and the agency just took no action against them.”
“(NFMU) could have collected a lot more revenue. Instead (the entity) allowed a lot of favouritism to take place and as such they lost, I would say, millions of dollars in revenue.
“They allowed their big PPP boys to slip under the radar, while others were called upon to pay their dues. In fact, they weren’t collecting from two of their PPP big boys for some time. It was a lot of unfairness that was going on at that agency.”
Sharma had said, “The level of corruption which was taking place at the agency points to the incompetency of those who are managing it.”
The Junior Finance Minister said that the revelations of some of the forensic audits thus far, vindicate the concerns the APNU+AFC had regarding the lack of accountability under the previous administration as well as the stench of corruption in some agencies.
As for the forensic audit launched into the EPA, Sharma had said that it uncovered that the entity has been holding some 15 accounts with over $400M.
Kaieteur News understands that recommendations were made for the monies to be transferred to the Consolidated Fund.
The Forensic audit revealed that the agency was apparently receiving monies from various agencies and opening a new account every time it received large sums.
Sharma explained that the agency should not have done that. He said that it should have held one account and categorized its expenses.
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