UGSS president repaid over $1M, may owe more

- audit finds

President Ganesh Mahipaul repaid $1,095,000 that he was accused of misusing to the University of Guyana Students’ Society (UGSS) by the end of May but he might liable for additional sums, according to the final report of an audit of the organisation’s accounts.

In April of this year, the UGSS executive council during a meeting had taken a decision to suspend Mahipaul after he was accused of misusing funds. The council, by way of a resolution, decided that Mahipaul would “be sent on leave until the audit is completed effective immediately, after which he shall resign, and that he shall be replaced on all committees that he is a part of as a UGSS representative.”

Subsequently, the internal audit was launched.

The notice of his suspension was sent to Mahipaul on June 24, and he was informed that if he was desirous of challenging the decision he should do so within 21 days. This deadline has since passed and it is uncertain if he made any attempts to challenge the resolution. Attempts to reach Mahipaul for comment were unsuccessful.

The report on the audit, which spanned the UGSS’ financial activities from October 31, 2012 to April 30, 2013 and was seen by Stabroek News, found that of the $4,435,995 spent by the UGSS during the period in question, $1,095,000, or 25% of the expended amounts, was identified by its executive council as misappropriated amounts.

Mahipaul had said that the amounts were not misappropriated, but borrowed to facilitate personal expenses, including the birth of his child and the payment of tuition fees. This practice, he said, was allowed under the UGSS Constitution, as long as he repaid the amounts within a specific time.

The audit confirmed that Mahipaul did in fact enter into an agreement with the UGSS on May 14 to repay the amounts by May 31, although he presented documents stating that he had deposited the amount into the society’s Republic Bank account a day before the deadline. A subsequent call to the bank would confirm that the amounts were indeed deposited.

Ganesh Mahipaul
Ganesh Mahipaul

The audit also found, that the May 14 contractual agreement provided for the repayment of additional sums of $125,720, the cost of a Central Processing Unit (CPU) and monitor taken by Mahipaul for repairs.

Mahipaul may also be liable for additional payments of up to $265,000 for which he has failed to submit the relevant documents, including receipts.

He is required to provide the documentation for this particular transaction before he is permitted to graduate from the university.

Mahipaul’s co-signatories to the cheques he was given–Secretary Adel Lily and Treasurer Sherwin Benjamin– were considered to have facilitated the process. Disagreements on their roles, though, led to the resignation of the society’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Amir Dilwar, and its Vice President Mahendra Doraisami.

Suggestions were made for both the Secretary and Treasurer to be suspended along with Mahipaul pending the results of the audit, but Lily had said that though he had signed the cheques, he was concerned at the way things were being done and voiced his concern to other members of the society. He has since maintained that he has never hidden or supported Mahipaul’s actions.

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