Fraud probe leaves pensioners in the cold
Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer
The Revenue Protection Division (RPD) has acknowledged that up to 150 new pensioners have not received their November payment because of the multimillion-dollar fraud it uncovered at the Accountant General's Department (AGD).
That confirmation by RPD boss Major Johanna Lewin came yesterday as the Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA) revealed that scores of its members, both new and existing pensioners, have complained of not receiving their November cheques.
Oneil Grant, president of the JCSA, said the pensioners reported that employees at the AGD informed them that their files were among the hundreds of documents seized by investigators from RPD and the Major Organised Crime Agency (MOCA), who are probing the $22 million scam uncovered there earlier this month.
"They have been given no indication when the files will be returned so that they can start getting their pension," Grant told The Gleaner, noting that the payment was the only source of income for some persons.
Lewin acknowledged that RPD is still in possession of a large volume of files that were removed from the AGD, but insisted that her office was "not necessarily" at fault for the non-payment to existing pensioners.
This, she argued, could be the result of "other inefficiencies" in the system of certifying pension payments.
She said prior to the raid on the AGD's downtown Kingston offices, steps were taken to ascertain what the fallout would be and minimise the impact and insisted that officials at the state agency gave an assurance that existing pensioners would not be affected.
"We were assured that if a pensioner was already on the system being paid, our actions would not affect that pensioner. The pensioner would continue to be paid and at whatever rate they were paid for the period before," Lewin explained.
However, the RPD boss said it was anticipated that new pensioners - whose files were still being processed - as well as persons expecting gratuities and those who had been approved for an increase would have been affected by the operations.
Noting that the files are to form part of the evidence against the five persons charged in connection with the scam, Lewis said RPD was working around-the-clock to have them copied and certified before they are returned to the AGD.