By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday said he is referring the matter concerning the Auditor General’s report into the National Sports Authority to the commissioner of police for “proper investigation”.
Dr Minnis made these remarks while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a loan signing ceremony. “I would have spoken to the commissioner of police, I would have spoken to (the) attorney general and I would have spoken to the auditor general,” Dr Minnis said. “And I informed the commissioner of police that I’m sending (a) report to him so that they can do a proper investigation and deal with the matter appropriately.”
These comments came one day after Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister K Peter Turnquest said the government is now considering whether to launch a forensic audit into the NSA for a legal basis to recover funds.
Meanwhile yesterday, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell hit back at Mr Turnquest in a statement, saying the paperwork Auditor General Terrance Bastian “claims” is missing is “right there”.
“Almost two years into their administration, the (Free National Movement) FNM is still not governing but wasting time chasing after their tails,” Mr Mitchell said.
“If anyone had any doubt that the political fix was in when the auditor general wrote the report that seemed to suggest missing money at the National Sports Authority, the announcement by (Mr Turnquest) that he is considering a forensic audit to find the legal basis to recover the monies paid confirms that the fix is in.
“The former Sports Minister Dr Danny Johnson has laid out chapter and verse the value for money that the government obtained during his time as minister. It was just as we predicted.
“The paperwork that the auditor general claims cannot be found is right there. The FNM has control of all of the government’s files, not the PLP.”
Mr Mitchell also said what is “really operating here” is a “continued campaign of denigrating the PLP and its work” by the FNM leading up to the next general election.
“The PLP has evidence of past audits where claims have been made about one thing or the next with regard to expenditure under the governance of the PLP, only to find that the premise on which the accusations were made was entirely false,” Mr Mitchell continued.
“We have no doubt that this is the same scenario at work here, again. An auditor can only speak to what they find on the day they showed up for the audit.”
Last week it was reported that during his audit of the NSA, Mr Bastian found that contracts for work issued by the entity were not transparent and its financial allocation from the government increased by more than $3.3m in the fiscal year containing the May 2017 general election.
Mr Bastian’s report further uncovered how one company received more than $1m in taxpayer funds, but did not complete any of ten deliverables promised to the NSA.
While the report did not name any of the companies to which it referred, research by Tribune Business reveals that the one which received the $1m despite not performing its global sporting and entertainment giant, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG).
AEG’s management and consultancy deal with the NSA was much-touted by former Prime Minister Perry Christie, who even suggested the group could bring the Los Angeles Lakers and other sporting teams in which it has an ownership stake to the Bahamas, Tribune Business reported.
The auditor general’s report also concluded NSA’s accounting practices did not fully comply with regulations and weaknesses were apparent.
In reviewing the engagement of certain employees – some without the necessary qualifications - how they were paid and the “unusual” handling of petty cash, Mr Bastian said the NSA did not adhere to the Financial Administration and Audit Act 2010, Financial Regulations 1975 and the Sports Authority Act 2011.
Irregularities regarding their terms of work were revealed in the audit report, tabled in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, which covered the operations of the authority from July 2011 to December 2017.
Over the weekend, Dr Johnson also defended his ministry’s accomplishments in a letter to the editor, stating he took “full and unmitigated” responsibility for the conduct of affairs, administration and protocols of the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture during his tenure.
The former sports minister added he was not surprised by the “recent back jumping exercise of others to pay homage and obedience to their political masters,” and appealed for young Bahamians to be given a chance to be the best in the sporting industry.