Sat | Dec 2, 2023

Finance ministry withdraws surcharge against Grace McLean

Published:Tuesday | September 26, 2023 | 10:07 AM
McLean was sent on interdiction in January last year as the Government said it suffered financial losses because of the payments. - File photo

The government has withdrawn the surcharge notice that Dr Grace McLean, the interdicted acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Youth, was allegedly responsible for the loss of $11.2 million arising from payments made to the Joint Committee for Tertiary Education (JCTE).

McLean was sent on interdiction in January last year as the Government said it suffered financial losses because of the payments.

King's Counsel Peter Champagnie and attorney-at-law Neco Pagon, who are representing, McLean said today that they will now be taking steps to have her entire status revisited.

The Financial Secretary, Darlene Morrison, sent a letter dated September 20, notifying McLean that the surcharge notice was withdrawn.

The letter stated that the surcharge notice was withdrawn because three years had passed, hence the notice was not legally enforceable.

“Please note that the surcharge proceedings have been terminated on the following  basis: “The Auditor General's Department Surcharge Review Committee Report indicates that Dr Grace McLean allowed the transfer of $11, 239,991.05 to the JCTE  between April and June 2020.

Section 20(2) of the Financial Administration and Audit Act states that “No such surcharge shall be made after the expiration  of a period of three years from the date of such failure to collect, improper payment, payment not duly vouched, deficiency, loss or destruction, as the case may be.”

“Given the above, surcharge is at this time not legally enforceable as the prescribed period within which surcharge can be effected has elapsed,” the letter stated.

McLean had insisted that the surcharge proceedings instituted against her were unwarranted.

Champagnie had written to the Auditor General in October 2021, pointing out that the recommendations arrived at on behalf of McLean were “neither substantiated in law or any relevant facts.” He also stated then that the recommendation to institute surcharge was not grounded in law.

He further stated that McLean's reputation had been damaged and she strongly denies knowing of and being involved in anything that would raise any issue of illegality and “possible conflict of interest”.

McLean was interdicted after law enforcement agencies launched investigations into the $124 million in unaccounted for payouts to JCTE over a 32-month period up to June 2020.

-Barbara Gayle

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