By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE completion of the audit into the Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute has been prolonged as the auditors hunt for information concerning hundreds of disbursements, BAMSI chairman Tennyson Wells said yesterday.
Auditors from Pannell, Kerr & Foster International have been performing analytics on BAMSI’s accounting data and procedures.
“They’ve been trying to verify that the cheques and wire transfers were used in connection with the goods and services they should’ve been used for,” Mr Wells said. “They sampled 900 [disbursements] but they couldn’t locate cheques and supporting documentation for 300 of those. Auditors advised us that they don’t feel comfortable dealing with the issue until a significant number of those cheques are located.
“When they were trying to finish the audit three, four months ago and couldn’t locate any information on the cheques or wire transfers they went to the bank for the information and it has been a long process getting info. Certainly, I would say the banks have not been as cooperative as they could be though I understand they’ve started to assist.”
In analysing the disbursements, the auditors will review supporting documentation, invoices, documented approvals and whatever information is needed to ensure the transactions were legitimate and proper.
The missing cheques and the lack of supporting documents for some payments is a huge concern, Mr Wells said, one that has already forced BAMSI to adjust its internal controls and make personnel changes.
“We have appointed a new acting financial controller,” he said. “There was shake up in the financial section and human resources section because the auditors felt the cheques and documents should’ve been available. You shouldn’t be running around months looking for these things. The information should be right there.”
Mr Wells said a couple of people in the finance department have resigned during the course of the audit investigation, though he wouldn’t say if they were pressured to leave.
The BAMSI audit is expected to cost less than $100,000.
The release of the audit was expected months ago. Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells, who at the time was minister of agriculture, said last year that it would be ready by June 2018.