Fri | Jan 19, 2018

Keep pressing! - Auditor general says AEROTEL must keep up efforts to recover $2m from former chairman

Published:Monday | March 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Monroe Ellis

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis has recommended that the state-owned Aeronautical Telecom-munications Limited (AEROTEL) should continue efforts to seek to recover almost $2 million it paid in telephone bills for a former chairman months after he had resigned.

"Overpayments should be calculated and recovered from the officer overpaid or the responsible officer. Additionally, a mechanism should be implemented to recover company property when board members demit office," the auditor general recommended in a special report tabled in Parliament last Thursday.

"Where payments made outside the Government's guidelines are not recovered, this may lead to surcharge of the responsible officers," added the auditor general as she noted that three senior officers of the company had to approve the payments.

The closed user group (CUG) mobile phone assigned to former AEROTEL chairman Maurice Henry continued to attract charges and was paid by the company for almost two years after he demitted office.

In June 2016, after incurring legal fees of $250,000, AEROTEL abandoned moves in court to recover the money, indicating that the company had exhausted all options to collect the sums and further pursuit through legal processes would be futile.

But the auditor general found that AEROTEL had not established pre-set limits on its CUG plans during the period January 2012 to April 2015.

Additionally, the company's CUG policy, which was created in February 2012, was not approved by the board until May 2015, and the pre-set limits exceeded those set out by the finance ministry.

The auditor general said that AEROTEL also did not implement a mechanism to ensure that the costs of private calls were borne by the caller as required by the finance ministry.