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#503420 - 04/17/15 11:35 AM Half-A-Million Dollars Missing from Treasury!
Marty Offline
Following his political announcement, the PM spoke to the media on a myriad of issues, including one very recent and serious discovery. Auditors and the police have been called into the Treasury Department to investigate an inside scam which netted perpetrators somewhere in the region of half a million dollars – allegedly diverted when persons paid monies into their various accounts through the Treasury. According to Prime Minister Barrow, the situation was brought to his attention on Tuesday by Financial Secretary Joe Waight.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“There’s some official or officials who ran some sort of a scam in terms of legitimate payments for particular accounts, changing account numbers while perhaps retaining the name. It seems initially the banks were only concerned that the account number given did in fact exist. What the FS told me is that basically it was the banks, or one of the banks, that eventually realized that there was a mismatch between the particular name and the particular account number. So it was the banks or a bank which first, as I understand it, sounded the alarm. I don’t have the figure. When the Financial Secretary spoke to me, he did say that it appears that it could be as high as half a million dollars. That was on Tuesday. I haven’t spoken to him since them. The Police are involved. The Police feel that there is more evidence they need, at least up to Tuesday, before arrests or an arrest would take place. That’s as far as I know. I’ve been in Belize City yesterday and today and no doubt by later today or tomorrow the FS will give me an update.”

Channel 5

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$500,000 stolen from Treasury!

Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed to the local media today that as much as $500,000 has been siphoned from the Government’s Treasury Department in Belize City.

The alarming incident came to light earlier this week, and this past Tuesday, April 14, the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, alerted PM Barrow about the findings.

Barrow told us that while he cannot confirm the exact amount since the matter is still being investigated, he was informed that it could be “as high as half a million dollars.”

Reliable sources have indicated that between $500,000 and $700,000 was embezzled over an unspecified amount of time, and Barrow noted that while the pilfering may have been happening for some time, authorities did not find out about it until recently, which is why no sort of public disclosure was previously made.

Barrow told us that at this time, it is still unclear who may have been the culprit/s, but he gave us an explanation of how the significant amounts of money went missing.

He said, “There’s some official/s who ran some sort of a scam in terms of legitimate payments for particular accounts – changing account numbers while perhaps retaining the name, and it seems that initially the banks were only concerned that the account numbers that were given did in fact exist.”

“What the Financial Secretary told me was that basically, it was one of the banks that eventually realized that there was a mismatch between the particular name and the particular account, so it was a bank that first, as I understand it, sounded the alarm,” Barrow cited.

He added that the police are involved in the matter; however, at this point, they need more evidence before an arrest or arrests could take place.

The PM referred us to the Financial Secretary for more information on the situation, but we were informed that he was unavailable today, and that the Accountant General, Veronica Smith, would first need to get his approval to speak publicly on the matter.

We did manage to reach the Officer in Charge of Belize City Police Precinct 3, Superintendent Suzette Anderson, who is in charge of the investigation, and she mentioned that presently, they cannot release any information on the course of the investigation, since it is still in its preliminary stages and they have only recently received the documents relating to the case.



Amandala

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#503440 - 04/17/15 11:42 PM Re: Half-A-Million Dollars Missing from Treasury! [Re: Marty]
ScubaLdy Offline
And still we do not get the required audits???
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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#503573 - 04/22/15 11:03 AM Re: Half-A-Million Dollars Missing from Treasury! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Financial Secretary Says Treasury Thief Took Half A Million In Months

Five-hundred and fifty-thousand dollars - that's how much was fleeced from the Treasury Department - and it all happened in a handful of transactions within just a few months. Today, the Financial Secretary, Joe Waight told the media that one person has been suspended:..

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"Right now they are investigating. We have closed a loophole which we have put more reconciliation, more auditing and more oversight in that department. We have moved some officers offline so to speak but again I have to say they are innocent until proven guilty. I am not making a charge because we don't know really what the investigation is."

Reporter
"Is there a finite sum as to the amount that was embezzled?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"No, the figure so far is about $500,000, which is a lot of money."

Reporter
"And the time frame sir? When it started until when?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"We think it's within the last 6 months. The reconciliations, when we dealt with it, a flag popped. And then what they did was went back further and further and found I think its 3 or 4 payments which aggregated to the $500,000."

Daniel Ortiz
"Can you explain to us exactly how this happened, to the layman, what happened, so that $550,000 went missing from the treasury?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"There were two large payments, as I understand and what happened really was that some ingenious person discovered that substituted, manipulated bank account numbers. To take out a bank account number and put in a wrong one. And the payment went through."

Reporter
"Sir, has anyone been put on leave or administrative leave as a result?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"Yes, we sent one gentleman on leave. But I have to say, innocent until proven guilty."

Daniel Ortiz
"The person that the money was directed to, has that person spent the money and have they given you a reason why they would spend so much money and pretend like..."

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"They are also in investigation and I believe the FIU has frozen some accounts there as well. But that's conspiracy you know."

Reporter
"How much?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"I don't know."

Waight says police are still investigating and he doesn't know when that will finish.

Channel 7


$550,000 Siphoned Off from Treasury, Employee Placed on Administrative Leave

Joseph Waight

The embezzlement of over half-a-million dollars from the Treasury Department, an inside job that was unearthed a little over a week ago by officials within the Ministry of Finance, has set off a major investigation into this most recent financial crime.  The scheme involved the misappropriation of two significant sums of monies, presumably by altering the account numbers for the respective deposits.  News of the swindle made headlines last Thursday when Prime Minister Barrow spoke briefly on the matter.  While no one has been detained in relation to the theft, an employee at the office’s Central Bank location has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.  Likewise, the Financial Intelligence Unit has proceeded to freeze the accounts of the individuals to whom the monies were transferred.  This morning, Financial Secretary Joseph Waight went into detail on what seems to have been a well orchestrated plan to pilfer monies from the public purse. 

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“Well there are two large payments as I understand and what happened really was that some ingenious person discovered that, substituted, manipulated bank account numbers to take out a bank account number and put in a wrong one and the payment went through.”

Reporter

“Has anyone been put on leave or administrative leave as a result?”

Joseph Waight

“Yes, we sent one gentleman on leave, yeah.  One gentleman while the investigation is [underway], but I have to say [he’s] innocent until proven guilty.  I don’t want to [falsely accuse anyone.]”

Reporter

“Any effect that this may have on, because we understand that it was from the pension fund.”

Joseph Waight

“No, that’s not correct.”

Reporter

“So can you correct.”

Joseph Waight

“It was a transfer to a private sector individual, an education transfer I believe.”

Reporter

“But it was drawn from where?  What account?”

Joseph Waight

“When the government makes payments it’s drawn from the consolidated fund but it’s not pension money.  It’s too big to be pension money really.  But if a payment was directed to Ms. Marisol but somebody went in there and changed the thing so the payment went to you and you took the money.”

Reporter

“So the wider public would not be affected by the missing money…”

Joseph Waight

“First of all, it’s taxpayers money, but no there is no… and the individual who supposed to have gotten paid but didn’t get paid, that person lost.  We have to make that up as well, you know.”

Reporter

“Sir, have you tracked the person that the money was diverted to?  Has that person spent the money and have they given you a reason why they would spend so much money?”

Joseph Waight

“They are also under investigation and I believe that the FIU has frozen some accounts there as well.”

As we said, no charges have been brought against the Treasury employee, pending the outcome of an investigation.  

Channel 5


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#503675 - 04/25/15 10:40 AM Re: Half-A-Million Dollars Missing from Treasury! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Public Officer Charged For Treasure Theft

The media has been reporting on the theft of $550,000 the Treasury Department since last week - and while we knew the amount and the how it was done, we could not find out whodunit - because of the tight lid police kept on the investigation.

But today, it all came out when one public officer was formally arrested and charged for half of the missing money. He is 28 year-old David Enriquez, a clerk at the Treasury Department. Tonight, he's in jail, facing 3 counts of theft.

Enriquez was arraigned this morning before Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith, and because he will be tried on indictment, no plea was taken.

The first theft occurred on March 14, 2015 and the amount was for $225,296, which was supposed to be deposited into the account set up to receive the monthly subvention funds for the Toledo Community College. Somehow, the money was diverted from that account to the Siene Bight Community Training Program's Belize Bank Account, which was then withdrawn at the Dangriga Branch over a period of time. Police believe that Enriquez was somehow involved in that diversion of funds, and a check of the system reveals that he was involved in another diversion for just over 47 thousand dollars.

But he's not the only one. Police say that another $225,296 also intended for the Toledo Community College, Punta Gorda Town, were diverted. This one was sent to a Belize Bank Account registered under Octaviana Lopez of #24 Magoon Street Dangriga Town. The monies were withdrawn from her account over a period of time.

So, 39-year-old Octaviana Lopez has been charged for Handling Stolen Goods.

These fraudulent transactions happened in March and were detected on April 7th. How did they do it? That's what the media tried to get out of the Financial Secretary on Tuesday. Here's his comments in that interview:

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"The reconciliations, when we dealt with it, a flag popped. And then what they did was went back further and further and found I think its 3 or 4 payments which aggregated to the $500,000."

Daniel Ortiz
"Can you explain to us exactly how this happened, to the layman, what happened, so that $550,000 went missing from the treasury?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"There were two large payments, as I understand and what happened really was that some ingenious person discovered that substituted, manipulated bank account numbers. To take out a bank account number and put in a wrong one. And the payment went through."

Reporter
"Sir, has anyone been put on leave or administrative leave as a result?"

Joseph Waight, GOB's Financial Secretary
"Yes, we sent one gentleman on leave. But I have to say, innocent until proven guilty."

Enriquez has been remanded to the Belize Central Prison until June 4. He's being represented by attorney Oscar Selgado, and it is expected that an application for bail will be made to the Supreme Court in short order.

Channel 7


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#503757 - 04/28/15 11:13 AM Re: Half-A-Million Dollars Missing from Treasury! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Are There More Arrests to Come in Treasury Hustle?

David Enriquez

Late last week, Treasury Department Second Class Clerk David Enriquez was arrested and charged for three counts of theft. Authorities believe that he diverted half a million dollars into private accounts. It’s a startling bold hustle, and one we found out today was done with the greatest of ease. In fact, Enriquez had already gotten away with hundreds of thousands which likely would never have been discovered. So how does government get so easily fleeced? Today we went looking for answers, and Financial Secretary Joseph Waight was prepared to provide them. He told News Five that the investigation is still in its early days, and the arrest of Enriquez may not be the last.

Joseph Waight

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“There’s enough evidence that was with the Police to make an initial request. Whether that is the beginning and end of it I am not sure. But the way the process works is this. Payments are made continuously by the government from all departments…processed by the Treasury…there’s a first approver, second approver – sometimes depending on the size a third approver. These payments are then bunched morning and again in the afternoon. Two transfers are made daily to a commercial bank. In this case I think it was the Belize Bank. The process is that once the approvals have gone through, there is prepared a list of payments for the morning, and a list of payments for the afternoon. That list has the beneficiary’s name, account number, money to be paid and reason why. Once the list is prepared it is copied and sent over to the commercial bank. My understanding is that at this stage the person accused entered the system, took out what was a valid bank account number, and put in his own or that of his friend. It went through and apparently knowing once it reaches the bank there’s not a cross-check between the number and the name – in fact if the number is valid then it goes through. So the allegation is that the gentleman found a weakness in the system, started to manipulate the accounts and then substituted what would have been the real beneficiaries – substituted another bank account and the bank account went through. We have received cooperation from the commercial bank and in fact when they did it a second time it was flagged because indeed large transfers to small accounts does pop a flag, but these two slipped through, these two slipped through. I think it was picked up later in the day when an officer in the bank saw a big payment go through and called the treasury, but initially something went through.”

Channel 5


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#503873 - 05/01/15 11:03 AM Re: Half-A-Million Dollars Missing from Treasury! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Accused Of Major Gov’t Graft, Enriquez Gets Bail

Last week Friday, we told you how 28 year-old David Enriquez, the Public Officer from the Treasury Department, was charged for the theft of over half a million dollars from his workplace. Well tonight, he's at home free after being granted bail by the Supreme Court. That's after spending 6 days on remand.

His attorney, Oscar Selgado, applied to the Supreme Court for bail this afternoon, and they were granted an audience before Justice Troadio Gonzalez. Crown Counsel Javair Chan advised the court that the DPP's Office was not in a position to offer any objections due to the short time that the application was forwarded to that office. He said that the DPP's Office would leave it up to the judge's discretion to decide whether or not Enriquez deserved bail. After consideration, Justice Gonzalez granted him bail of $40,000 dollars which he was able to meet this evening.

But, tonight we show you another man who has been charged in connection with the monies fleeced from the public purse. That man is Dangriga resident Francis Palacio, and he's now facing a charge of handling stolen goods for 225 thousand dollars of the missing money. He too applied for bail before Justice Gonzalez, and it was granted. Justice Gonzalez set the bail amount at $4,000 dollars, which he was able to meet this afternoon as well.

So, what is his connection to the theft of public funds? Well today, his attorney, Dickey Bradley was careful to point out to the media that the police are alleging that the money was found in a bank account which he shares jointly with others:

Dickey Bradley, attorney
"My client Francis Palacio has not been charged for the theft of any money. Monies from wherever went into an account in Seine Bight Village in Dangriga, in the Stann Creek District. He is not charged for stealing that money. He is charged for handling the money, because it is in an account for which he among others are responsible for a project. So, it's a totally different matter and I could not say to you - I don't know what is the details of Enrique's allegations against him. I suspect that must be the matter the Prime Minister was speaking about. Clearly it must be two different matters, but I couldn't say to you what is the details in relation to that. He is charged for theft of $540 plus thousand dollars, for which he has been given a very high bail. But I will have a chance to speak to my client next week to get details of what are the documentation to say if that money came from the treasury, if it came from wherever, because they get grants and they get donations from overseas financing and so on. So, I couldn't tell you if both are actually related."

Mike Rudon, Ch 5
"You wouldn't be able to tell us the quantum for which your client was charged for handling?"

Dickey Bradley, attorney
"It's nothing close for what the other person has been charged. Been handling maybe for over $100,000 plus dollars."

Both men were given conditions to their bail that they must surrender all travel documents, report to police weekly, attend all adjournments of their criminal case, and to avoid tampering with any prosecution witnesses.

Channel 7


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