Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
Auditors poring over the finances of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) have uncovered a massive fraud that could have siphoned off close to $100 million, insiders have revealed.
According to one insider, the fraud, which involves the issuing of cheques in fictitious names, was discovered nearly two weeks ago. It is not clear if the police have been called in, but there are reports out of the teachers' union that the leadership was trying to deal with it internally.
The insider told The Gleaner that the auditors turned up and found partly burnt documents and kerosene oil in an area close to where they were working.
Already, the entire staff of the accounts department has been sent on leave for one month "in the first instance".
"The full extent of it [the fraud] is still not known. It could be about $100 million by the time it [the audit] is completed," the source said.
It is still not clear how the leadership of the JTA was alerted to the fraud, but sources said the auditors found that for some time, cheques were being prepared and cashed using fictitious names. Also, it is believed that scores of uncashed cheques are still in circulation.
However, according to the insider, the JTA leadership has already revamped the system by which cheques are issued and has put tighter control measures in place.
"So now it's going to be very difficult to get a cheque out of that office," said the insider in reference to the new system.
Several attempts to get a comment from outgoing JTA president, Clayton Hall, and incoming president, Dr Mark Nicely, and Secretary General Adolph Cameron were unsuccessful.