Investigations into a major fraud within the Accountant General’s Department of the Finance Ministry are nearing conclusion and a preliminary report is expected to be completed within the next two weeks.
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh had invited the Office of the Auditor General and the police to investigate suspected unauthorised and irregular transactions within the Accountant General’s Department.
When contacted yesterday for a comment, Auditor General Deodat Sharma told Stabroek News that he could not comment on the issue, since the matter is still being investigated.
The investigations, which are being spearheaded by the Audit Office and the police, are focused on improprieties committed over a period of time within the agency involving sums of monies left unclaimed by government pensioners. The total figure at the centre of the probe is unclear and when pressed Sharma said the figure is still being examined.
According to a source, several persons are likely to be held culpable and interviews with staff within the ministry are ongoing. On completion, the preliminary report will be forwarded to the Minister of Finance within another two weeks and action will be taken thereafter, it was noted.
According to a statement issued by the Office of the President on March 1, the faulty transactions were detected following internal checks by senior supervisory staff from the Finance Ministry, who, according to Singh, conducted “relevant intelligence gathering activities.”
In a letter addressed to the Auditor General issued earlier this month, Singh informed Sharma of the irregularities in the Accountant General’s Department. He stated that initial reviews found that payments of superannuation benefits to officials were irregular and “designed to avoid standard financial and accounting procedures.” Singh also stated that the Auditor General would have been provided with “all the necessary cooperation and support” for the investigation.
The Accountant General’s Department, among other things, checks financial statements of all government ministries, agencies and departments and transmits these to the Office of the Auditor General for auditing.