Mon | Nov 11, 2019

Petrojam blocked audit - PCJ auditor says former managers thwarted review

Published:Wednesday | December 12, 2018 | 12:56 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Ashlyn Malcolm, group internal auditor, Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica

Auditors at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), the parent company for Petrojam, have revealed that they were prevented from carrying out an audit at the state-owned oil refinery by the previous management.

Group internal auditor at PCJ, Ashlyn Malcolm, told the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) yesterday that her team was given different excuses why it could not conduct an internal audit at Petrojam.

“We have tried to commission an audit, for example, on the procurement [across the entities in the PCJ Group]. In the case of Petrojam, we had the entrance meetings, we started it [audit] and then we were not allowed to complete because the external auditors were there,” Malcolm revealed.

“We were told to hold.”

‘SOUNDS VERY ODD’

The disclosure did not sit well with chairman of the PAC, Mark Golding, and the other opposition members on the committee. All the government members were absent from yesterday’s sitting.

“That sounds very odd to me. I cannot see, if an internal audit is necessary from an oversight point of view, in order to deal with irregularities, how the fact that the company is going through its normal financial audit should, in any way, stymie that process proceeding,” Golding said.

It is not clear if the committee’s deliberations will be entered into the records of Parliament, as the PAC meeting was adjourned prematurely amid confusion about whether it was convened in keeping with the Standing Orders of Parliament.

REPORTS NOT FORWARDED

Malcolm revealed that several follow-up attempts by PCJ to carry out the audit of Petrojam were unsuccessful.

She indicated, too, that the internal auditors at the oil refinery conducted their own audit, but she was not able to review it.

“The reports by the auditors at Petrojam were not forwarded to me,” Malcolm said when asked why she did not review the findings.

“That auditor does not report to PCJ, and although we have tried to have collaboration, there is an independence there in terms of the reporting for the auditor. And so getting the auditor to report to us, that has not happened,” she added, while noting that things have changed under the new Petrojam board.

Her response triggered a sharp rebuke from Golding.

“It was incumbent on the PCJ board, as the parent board of the group, to ensure that the internal audit function was effective and robust and protected the taxpayers of this country, and they were derelict in their duty,” he charged.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com