Wed | Nov 30, 2022

DBJ cleared of malpractice, conflict of interest flagged

Published:Wednesday | October 5, 2022 | 12:13 AM
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis.
Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis.

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis says allegations of malpractice surrounding loan awards to the information and communications technology-business process outsourcing (ICT-BPO) sector by the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) are unfounded.

However, the chief guardian of public expenditure said she saw evidence of conflict of interest but noted that verbal disclosures were made in board meetings and also reflected in board minutes.

In a special audit report of the DBJ tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, Monroe Ellis explained that the evidence provided to her also indicated that instances of conflict of interest were managed by board members recusing themselves from deliberations related to the ICT-BPO sector in which they had an interest.

The audit was conducted against the background of anonymous allegations of malpractice in the awarding of loans, and conflict-of-interest claims made against certain members of the board of directors of the DBJ for the period 2015-16 to 2021-22.

In her recommendation to the DBJ, the auditor general urged the board of the public body to ensure that conflict-of-interest declaration forms are signed and submitted to the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service as outlined in the company’s corporate governance framework.

She said that this was necessary to mitigate any risk of perception of a lack of transparency related to conflicts of interest.

Monroe Ellis also said that for the six-year period under review, the DBJ approved 23 loans to the ICT-BPO sector totalling J$8,189 million estimated to create 24,229 new jobs. The financial year ended March 2020 recorded the highest number of seven ICT-BPO loans.

The auditor general reported that the highest number of estimated new jobs to be created was 6,600 in 2015-16, which coincides with the highest total of loans approved of more than $2,086 million. Similarly, the lowest number of estimated new jobs created was 1,200 in 2018-2019. This coincided with the lowest total of loans approved in the sum of $595 million.