President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Guyana (ICAG) Ronald Alli says that he will be issuing a statement on the perceived conflict of interest situation created by the wife of the Minister of Finance being in her position at the Audit Office.
He has refused to speak prior to the completion of the investigation by a unit within the ICAG and made this clear to Stabroek News when the newspaper approached him on Tuesday for a comment.
“The issue is still under investigation by [a] Committee. We will be sending out communication on it in the near future,” said Alli when contacted for a response by this newspaper . “The claim that we did not respond or acknowledge the letter (from the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament) was erroneous. We cannot speak on the matter since it is still under investigation,” he said. The matter was referred to the ICAG since June, 2012.
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament Carl Greenidge said on Tuesday it is not clear that anything is happening on the investigation and that caused some alarm.
But he found it surprising to hear that Alli’s body was investigating the issue all this time. “I am astonished to hear that they are investigating and that it is ongoing for so long,” said Greenidge. “One would have expected that they would have reported to their principals…they should have sent some comment from the beginning,”Greenidge said of the ICAG.
The PAC had written the ICAG for guidance on whether the appointment of Geetanjali Singh, the wife of the Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh, to the number two position in the Audit Office was a threat to the integrity of the public audit process.
Greenidge, of the main opposition party, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) , disclosed in a letter in Monday’s edition of Stabroek News that the PAC’s query was not responded to since it was made in June 2012. Further, Robert McRae, partner in the accounting and professional services firm Ram and McRae had sent a letter in July, 2012 to the ICAG also pointing out the possible conflict of interest scenario and seeking a response from the body. This was also not responded to.
Greenidge’s letter in Monday’s edition of Stabroek News said that his view that there was a conflict had been shared by most accountants and lawyers that he had consulted and as Chairman of the PAC, he wrote the ICAG seeking guidance on the issue.
He said too that the PPP/C’s representative on the PAC Gail Teixeira told the PAC that she also wrote the ICAG challenging Greenidge’s authority to write the letter and refuting claims that Mrs Singh had any assignments that posed a professional conflict of interest.
He said that after this, he stopped receiving any correspondences from the professional body and he said that it might have been threatened by what was contained in Teixeira’s letter.
Greenidge said that if the Government were interested in probing the conflict of interest situation, it would not have taken the step of calling a vote in the PAC for the confirmation of Mrs Singh during a time when a member of the PAC from the Alliance for Change (AFC) was not there.