My integrity's still intact over PC Bank
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I write in response to your front-page publication of my photograph beside the red-inked caption 'Reckless management' at the National People's Cooperative Bank of Jamaica Limited (NPCB) in The Gleaner of September 17, 2015, and your cartoon in The Sunday Gleaner of September 20, 2015.
There are some discrepancies and inaccuracies being aired and printed in the media, and I would like to correct some of these.
I admit that there are high-risk loans, but these were not given under my watch as chairman of the NPCB. Some of these were given as far back as 2012. In fact, I was on retirement from the board when the biggest of these loans was processed and disbursed. I became chairman in 2013.
After the recent joint special audit was done by the Development Bank of Jamaica Limited (DBJ) and the Agricultural Credit Board (ACB), my administration sent a senior manager on leave to facilitate a special internal audit, headed by the new internal audit manager, to determine who was to be charged or censured for the credit and operational breaches that were discovered, and if/when charged, to give the person or persons a hearing to determine what sanctions were to be administered, be it suspension or separation.
The ACB has chosen to intervene before this audit is finished because the matter has got national prominence, and it needed to give a good account of its fiduciary responsibility. I have no difficulty with that.
I was informed by the interim general manager that the 'unaccounted-for' sum of $665 million is now accounted for, and I conveyed that information on one of the nation's television stations and it was read during the 8 p.m. newscast on September 17, 2015, This was confirmed by the minister of agriculture at a press conference on Friday, September 18, 2015.
However, the opposition spokesman on finance has not accepted the explanations given by the minister for the use of the $665 million. He is demanding a forensic audit of the NPCB's financial and other operations.
Your cartoon of Sunday, September 20, 2015 is highly suggestive and persons have been implying that I, though not named, have stolen NPCB money.
I welcome and support the call for a forensic audit because only this will repair the damage that has been done to my integrity.
BERNAL V. NEIL