Sat | Aug 8, 2020

CMU failed to disclose bank accounts during AGD audit

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2020 | 10:18 AM
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Members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) were told yesterday that the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) did not furnish information on all the bank accounts it had during a special audit by the Pamela Monroe Ellis-led Auditor General’s Department (AGD).

She indicated that her department did not obtain critical information initially on CMU’s bank accounts.

According to Monroe Ellis, her department sought confirmation from specific banks in relation to accounts held by the CMU.

However, she said that it was later discovered that not all the bank accounts of the beleaguered institution had been revealed to her team of auditors.

“We learnt about the accounts that we spoke about by other means, so when we sent the bank confirmation to the banks, they provided information based on what was in the bank confirmation, but not all the accounts that are there,” Monroe Ellis explained.

When quizzed if the 22 banks accounts highlighted in the special report were the only accounts at that time, acting president Professor Ibrahim Ajagunna said he was not aware of any other.

Asked a similar question by committee members, Monroe Ellis said that apart from the 22 bank accounts that were included in her special report, no other account had come to light subsequently.

“We did not go in search of any other account beyond what we reported on. There are several financial institutions in Jamaica, we did not send confirmation to all the financial institutions and so my comment can only be limited to those that we have sent a confirmation to,” she added.

Deadline Missed

Meanwhile, committee member Dr Morais Guy charged that the CMU had been on a “frolic of its own” for some time.

He said that despite a warning from the Ministry of Transport and Mining in September 2017 to impose sanctions on the institution for failing to submit annual reports and financial statements for three years, dating back to 2014/2015, it was apparently business as usual for the tertiary body.

At present, four annual reports from 2015 are still outstanding from the CMU.

The Ministry had oversight of the university before the education ministry took charge.

Yesterday, the acting CMU president told the committee that the university was unable to meet its deadline of the end of May to complete outstanding annual reports.

“We are unable to meet that target... as the external auditor was waiting on the auditor general’s report,” he said.

However, committee members argued that there was no reason why the external auditors should be relying on the AGD report to complete their job.

Further, committee chairman Mark Golding observed that the auditor general’s report was tabled in Parliament from January

Ajagunna said that the new CMU Council was concerned about the delay.

In his remarks, committee member Horace Dalley said that in all his years “observing government” he had never seen where a public body or agency failed to act after being warned by its parent ministry. 

The acting CMU president said that Fritz Pinnock, the president who is now on special leave amid corruption charges against him, was in charge of corporate governance at both the Caribbean Maritime Institute and when it was upgraded to a university.

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