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Auditor’S Report - Now There Is Action

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd. Photo: Terrel W Carey/Tribune Staff

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

A DAY after insisting he had no knowledge of a probe uncovering collusion by employees to defraud the government of nearly $450,000 in a department under his purview, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd told The Tribune the matter is under “active” investigation.

He also said a reform process is underway at the Ministry of Education, including an overhaul of its accounting department.

However, it remains unclear who is investigating what Auditor General Terrance Bastian deemed “egregious acts” by workers in the Department of Education, as Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle, who heads the Anti-Corruption Unit, told this newspaper the unit was not looking into the findings of the report. We were directed to inquire with the ACP by the Financial Crimes Unit of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

“I didn’t request the audit, the audit has to go to them (education officials),” ACP Rolle said. “Any complaints from there have to come from the minister. So if he doesn’t have it, you know we don’t have it.

“I guess at some point he’ll write to the commissioner and then he’ll decide where he wants to send it. But nothing has reached to me yet.”

The report covered the period from July 1, 2014 to February 28, 2018, and was sent to the Ministry of Education in September last year but not tabled in the House of Assembly. It is expected to be tabled today.

As to why the report was not tabled in the three months following its release essentially causing it to be withheld from public view is also unclear.

While Mr Bastian confirmed it was sent to the chief clerk of the House in September, The Tribune understands while a junior staffer signed and received the auditor’s report, it never reached the head clerk.

When asked about this, House Speaker Halson Moultrie said this was not an effort to suppress the report. He said it has been consistent practice for reports to be tabled in a timely manner once they are received by the lower chamber.

“I suspect it may be tabled tomorrow (Wednesday) if he has received the full complements of copies because what has been happening is we have been receiving like one or two copies from the Auditor General and when the documents are tabled members are asking for copies and we usually have to then go take the documents apart and make copies of them,” Mr Moultrie said.

“So we have requested of the Auditor General that he provide at least 40 copies to the House of Assembly so that each member can receive a copy in addition to the one being tabled. I hope that is the procedure and if there is any delay that may have caused the delay.”

He added: “All of the audits that were presented to the speaker have been tabled up to this point in time.”

Mr Moultrie further explained that in most cases, reports would be left at the reception desk and then passed on to the clerk.

Following this interview with Mr Moultrie, Mr Lloyd was asked if he intended to refer the fraud case to police, to which he responded: “Yes”.

He was also asked if any changes were made to the manner in which stipends and honoraria were handled based on the report.

“Complete reform of the processing and the procedures in the Accounting Department, complete. And a reform process (is) underway throughout (Ministry of Education),” Mr Lloyd said.

“It’s slow. It’s tedious. It’s inevitable.”

Asked whether anyone was fired or reassigned, Mr Lloyd said: “This stuff is under active investigation. I say no more.”

During this special probe, Mr Bastian said a team observed what appeared to be several irregularities perpetuated by staff members using an array of honoraria codes.

The report defines honoraria as being granted to officers who are required to perform extra duties in addition to their normal duties for a specified period.

While the director approved these payments, there was no accompanying formal approval from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Public service as is required. This meant there were no project justification letters including cost, financial clearance, virement of funds and appropriation transfer warrants provided by the Department of Education.

A virement is an administrative transfer of funds from one part of a budget to another.

“Since staff were able to perpetuate a fraud to the tune of $448,230.68 using the honoraria description it would be reasonable to ascertain that other unethical uses of other codes could have been used,” the report, dated September 12, 2018 noted.

In one instance, an assistant accountant received 43 honoraria payments of $125,505.82 in 44 months. At a separate time, another accountant received $61,113.18 in 32 instalments in 20 months while those with lesser jobs including a general service worker received nine honoraria payments of $12,650 in 17 months.

There were at least 12 instances where this happened.

Auditors further noted a finance officer was signing on behalf of the head of department and authorised ten virements from the salary block totalling more than $2m for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.

There were also instances where auditors found that individual staff members received over $10,000 and as much $125,505.82 in honoraria payments in “unreasonable” time periods. A head of department also authorised $1.3m over two years.

Comments

joeblow 6 months ago

Kudos to Mr Bastian and his team. They seem to be the only government employees consistently doing their job!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months ago

But can you imagine how they must feel knowing that their efforts have no consequences for the guilty and therefore are for naught at the end of the day. I like how Snake once put it: "Minnis stands a greater chance of doing prison time than my son-in-law Frank or my good friend Shane." LMAO

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joeblow 6 months ago

... but an informed Bahamian people can use that info to make decisions in 2022.

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tell_it_like_it_is 6 months ago

That Department of Education headquarters is a mess!
Why don't they ask them about all the purchases that are approved because staff are getting money 'under the table'! SMH

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DDK 6 months ago

Aren't ALL Government Departments and Corporations un ungodly mess? They are so lackadaisical about the whole thing..........

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licks2 6 months ago

It is ran by a group of PLP placed incompetents. . .from the Director and his administrative team! It seem that the Long Island cartel cannot be corrected when they put in place a negligent hire. . .usually one placed solely on his/her politics. . . THE PRESENT DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION WILL DESTROY THAT DEPARTMENT. . . HE IS WAY OUT OF HIS DEPT. . .COMPETENCE AND CONTENT WISE!! It seem that the Minnis government is leaving him there to "screw up" himself or the present minister. . .the real reason is left to be seen when that DE screw up something else bigger. . .

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bogart 6 months ago

EXCELLENT WORK MR.AUDITOR TERRANCE BASTIAN AND YOUR TEAM....EXCELLENT NO NONSENSE WORK.......CALLING A SPADE A SPADE......NO VASCILLATING....WISHY WASHY.....WORK..... EGREGIOUS CURRUPTION....IS EGREGIOUS CPRRUPTION...!!!!!....A SPADE IS A SPADE...,!!!! NATIONS HIGHEST HONOURS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM....!!!!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months ago

To bogart: Now encourage law enforcement and the judiciary to do similarly excellent work with respect to handing out justice to those alleged to have committed the crimes, who, for whatever reason, always seem to go unnamed. Still LMAO

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bogart 6 months ago

.trust if you can point out some examples Mudda....will second your motion to do so Mudda.......why you pick dem two only.....???.... stop at da Police...an Judiciary.....dey getting gubbermint salary.....to do dere endeavor best job....Us pore is different...can anyone can use the word Excellence in a sentence to do with.....we da pore suffering most...regressive done 7.5% VAT ....50% struggling and on top comes 4.5% more VAT...highest unemployment...businesses having it rough...etcetc......PLUS ....ya shoudda knows its.....like only we....da pore....who is mussey like 99.99999% population of Fox Hill Prison..country where latest GDP per capita some $31,000 per person....stool bucket....mash up like sardine.!!!!!..'sides..ever hears any police or judiciary uses da word Excellence ..in any sentemce.....about we da pore conditions ...or Fox Hill Prison conditions...aint no laughing matter here....

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yeahyasee 6 months ago

All this smoke and nobody will go to jail over this.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

Another strike against Lloyd ......... collusion and cover-up of the report, indeed.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

Speaker just said ........ AudGen sent MOE report to HOA ....... receptionist signed for the document Sept 13, 2018........ Document "vanished" and never reached Speaker's Office ........... Tribune leaked the story Jan 15, 2019 ............. Who instructed the receptionist to "hide" the report???? .................. HMMMMMMMMMMM

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hrysippus 6 months ago

I wonder why Sheeprunner12 is always knocking on the Hon. minister? They both Long island people but only one has been so successful in his life, so perhaps simple envy? Thanks to the Auditor and to the minister for calling him in, if he did so, that is.

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Yes, or no - is anyone home over at Ministry of Education when large portion the school children's bodies are left attend classes on hungry stomachs - whilst the corrupted help themselves half a million dollars of PeoplePublicsPurse's monies - whilst a clueless minister has unpaid Lunch Vendors trying feed few children's goin' hungry empty stomachs.
Yes, no - the Imperial substantive crown minister needs unshackle he self from being clueless his surroundings? { No need make stuff up when reality sets in }.

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jackbnimble 6 months ago

Is there any Government Department where no "teffin" going on? What's worse is all these Auditor General reports and nobody ever gets locked up or prosecute . It's an exercise in futility.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

Even the names of the offenders are never publicized ...... so they are relieved of their duties and sent to a different Government Department and the same thing starts all over again ....... Unions protect their jobs or force payouts.

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SP 6 months ago

Jeff Lloyd has that "deer in the headlights" look again!

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