Caribbean security agency boss sacked over money matters

(Trinidad Express) Lynne Anne Williams, executive director of the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (Impacs), was fired from her position last month after financial audits showed she owed the security agency thousands of dollars loaned to her as cash advances.

Williams, a former director at the Research Associates of Trinidad and Tobago, also known as the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA), was terminated following a decision by Caricom Heads of Government.

This came pursuant to a decision taken at the Sixteenth Special Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom in New York, held on September 22.

The decision to dismiss Williams from the agency came on the heels of an investigation conducted, and exclusively revealed by the Sunday Express on April 17, which unearthed allegations of corruption, misconduct and misappropriation of funds at Impacs, a regional crime and security agency.

After a series of publications, which were also supported by material evidence, the Caricom Council of (Ministers) for National Security and Law Enforcement, which has direct oversight and control over Impacs, ordered a preliminary audit by the Director of Internal Audit at the Caricom Secretariat’s office in Guyana.

Following that audit, a diagnostic audit was ordered and independent auditing firm Ernst and Young was contracted to conduct the audit and concluded its findings early last month.

Several weeks ago, the Sunday Express obtained a copy of the report.

In the executive summary of the 36-page report, the auditors stated that their audit revealed there are a number of areas that warrant remedial action. It also stated that Williams owed the agency thousands of US dollars which represented returns of cash advances given to her during travel.

She also failed to conform to the agency’s finance and accounting guidelines and there is evidence to support allegations made against her.

It added that the absence of properly prepared financial statements and corresponding external financial audits were at the ‘heart of the matter’ and was further compounded by the inconsistencies in the preparation of bank reconciliations.

The report added, “There is evidence that the Executive Director, charged with oversight and overall responsibility for Caricom Impacs, was not adhering to important terms of the Agreement that formed Caricom Impacs, nor complying with Caricom Impacs finance and accounting guidelines.”

“This is exacerbated by the fact that the Executive Director owed the Agency funds, which are not recorded in the financial records of the Agency. There is evidence to support some of the allegations against the Executive Director.”

Regarding the allegation in which Williams was accused of ripping off the agency of thousands of dollars, the auditors said, “This allegation is broad and lends itself to interpretation based on the facts supporting the other allegations specifically related to the Caricom Impacs Executive Director, Lynne Anne Williams.”

The allegations where payments were made to Williams for staying at a non-existent hotel (Darreyl’s Bungalow) in Barbados and payments were supported by invoices generated at Williams’s office, the report said, were true. But there exists a lease agreement between Williams and Philip Brenan, on behalf of Darreyls Court.

The report said: “Ms Williams opted to stay at private accommodation in Barbados and presented invoices bearing the name Darreyls Bungalow. Darreyls Bungalow is a non-existent entity.

“Upon enquiry as to the differences between the name on tenancy agreement ‘Dayrells Court’ and that on the invoice ‘Darreyls Bungalow’, the Financial Comptroller (ag) has represented the Executive Director has indicated the reason for this being security purposes.”

It further states that the report conducted by the Director, Internal Audit at Caricom Secretariat, regarding preliminary investigation of allegations of financial impropriety at Impacs revealed that “Ms Williams provided her Executive Assistant with an ‘invoice format’ headed ‘DARREYLS BUNGALOW’ to be used for presentation to the Finance Department to support the advance for accommodation.”

“We note that none of these invoices were signed by Mr Phillip G Brenan, the person signing on behalf of the landlord of Dayrell’s Court,” the Ernst and Young report stated.

The daily accommodation rate based on the tenancy agreement is computed at US$70.83 being one thirtieth of monthly rental BD$4,250 converted to US$2,124.90. The daily rate disbursed to Williams was US$120 which is the rate billed on the invoices bearing the name ‘Darreyls Bungalow’.

“The daily rate disbursed to Ms. Williams was US$120 representing an additional amount of US$49.17. No evidence was seen to support the computation of the daily accommodation rate of US$120.”

“If the above assumption holds true then the excess funds received by Ms Williams based on the proposals made at the Management Committee Meeting is US$4,130.28. Based on the Console approved documented Financial & Accounting Regulations the total of the excess funds received by Ms Williams is US$10,080. Testing of amounts to be repaid by Executive Director confirms that US$5,669.67 is owed by Ms Williams to Caricom Impacs,” the report said.

“Our reviews and interviews confirm there were no audited financial statements since the inception of Impacs which is not in conformance with the Financial and Accounting Regulations of IMPACS.”

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