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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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For "Substantial" Missing Sum

Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley today confirmed that former council pay mistress Shirlene Sabal has been dismissed - as the council awaits the outcome of an internal audit - which should be completed by the end of the week.

She was suspended the day after the new council went into office - but he today told us that they have taken the decision to dismiss her because the sum of money, which was misappropriated under her watch, appears to be "substantial."

As we've reported, she is accused of engineering a daring scheme that cost the council tens of thousands of dollars in bogus overtime payments.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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CitCo employee suspended over alleged financial fiddling

The Belize City Council has confirmed the suspension of payroll clerk, Shirlene Sabal, as it commences its investigation into allegations of "bogus" overtime payments made to junior-level employees at some point during the previous administration.

As the Council takes office today, Monday, after having been sworn in on Friday, Mayor Darrell Bradley reported that after being briefed on Thursday morning last, he ordered an immediate investigation and commissioned an audit team, which will consist of both external and internal investigators, to review the Council's records.

At the conclusion of the investigation, Bradley maintained, "decisive action" would be taken.

City Administrator Candice Burke confirmed today that Shirlene Sabal has been sent home on half-pay pending the outcome of the investigation, but declined to give details about the extent, and especially the amount of the money lost, because the investigation is "early".

Burke did deny, however, a reported figure of $50,000 as alleged by other media, saying that the actual figure is still being determined.

The City Administrator has promised to keep us abreast of the Council's investigative work.

As for remedies to halt further abuses, Bradley has proposed tightening the Council's belt internally with legislation and a codified set of rules, with penalties for non-compliance for all, from Councilor to ordinary worker.

The Council has also met with staff to preach its new message of transparency and accountability in municipal affairs.


Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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70K Missing Under Paymistress Sabal

The partial audit investigation into irregularities at the City Council has been completed and it shows that tens of thousands of dollars were unaccounted for under paymistress Shirlene Sabal. The audit only covers the years 2010 and 2011 and it shows that approximately seventy thousand dollars is unaccounted for. It is believed that these monies went missing through Sabal's department in bogus overtime payments and payments for bogus loans. The auditors believe that if they dig further into the records more irregularities can be found but this initial report is just a one year snapshot.

We do know that the mayor Darrell Bradley met with Sabal today - but he did not answer our requests for a comment on what will happen next - whether she will pay it back, or if criminal charges will be brought. We hope to have an answer from the mayor tomorrow.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Full Extent Of City Scandal Exposed

For the past few nights - we've been telling you about the misappropriation of monies at city hall - allegedly under the hand of pay mistress Shirlene Sabal.

As we reported last night - the total is seventy thousand dollars - and today the mayor explained just how it was done - and showed us the eleven page audit detailing 258 fraudulent payroll entries:

Here's how he explained it:..

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The extent to which there was a lost to the city council at this present moment it comes to $69,586.00 to be exact."

This audit report - complete don Friday - shows irregular overtime payment -made out by pay mistress Shirlene Sabal.

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The pay mistress could have perpetrated this fraud on the public revenue because too many functions were concentrated in herself and what she would do is that she would simply in some cases forge some of the documentation for approvals for overtime and what she did is she targeted certain areas where we would routinely have overtime; works, sanitation - people would routinely be out on the weekends - out in the evenings and when you look at the report there would be very small amounts, $200 here, $150 there and so it was something which over a period a time could have come under the radar because of who she was in the city council; the function she was responsible for and then also the amounts that were involve and the areas that she targeted."

In most cases, the overtime payments were issued and collected, unbeknownst to the city council employees. She simply used their names to issue the checks - they never saw or benefitted from the receipts:

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"What would happen is that the individuals would receive their same cheques, so if I am a person who work at the city council and I make $250 every week, I receive a check in my name for $250 and what would happen is that there would be an additional amount that would be paid in my name for maybe a hundred dollars of overtime and it would show that she would prepare 2 separate cheques; one for $250 and one for the overtime amounts."

"What it would show is that I would not pick up the second cheque, she would actually go on the ledger and she would just write in the person's name. Actually one of our controls is a cheque ledger. She would just write in the persons' names and she would just take that additional cheque."

But that wasn't the extent of it; these overtime payments also went to pay loans made in these employee's names - again, loans they never knew they took out:

Jules Vasquez
"Now, there is also another element to it where as I understand it employees procured into making loans from these pawn shops type quick loan places and then she would give them a cut of the loan."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"In terms of that she targeted employees who would not fully realize the scope of what she was doing and so what she would do is go to these employees; she would of course have the loan documents. We had questioned several of these employees; they had indicated that they didn't really know that it was a loan."

"All of that we are looking into, because this is something that in terms of putting in place the systemic changes would be ongoing for us. These individuals would sign these loan documents and she would procure the loan and she would go to the loan agencies. The monies would be paid over to her and then again she uses the overtime to repay these loans. The individuals would say that they sign some documents but they didn't really know what they were signing - it came from the pay mistress. Some of them indicated that they thought it was city council documents that they were signing."

This scam went on for at least a year and a half - bypassing multiple checks in the system - and no one noticed:

Jules Vasquez
"You all so have an internal auditor, you all did have a financial controller. Were these people a sleep at the wheel?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"The internal audit - because again I indicated that from last year persons from human resources recognize that there were some irregularities and they had requested an audit to be done of the payroll. The audit that was done last year in October missed this."

But now that it's been caught, identified and exposed, the council is determined to get its money back from Sabal:

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"We are dealing decisively with the recovery of these funds. I just had a meeting with Ms. Sabal just before you came in and we are taking possession of two vehicles and we are also taking possession of a piece of property that is owned by one of her relatives. We are doing an assessment on these items and we are going to credit these towards the $69,000 and then Ms. Sabal will be made to put forward a proposal as to how she intends to repay this amount because we are very serious in terms of ensuring that public funds are religiously guarded and we mean to collect back every single cent that is owed to the city council."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you leaving the option open that you may in lieu of suitable repayment agreement, you may pursue criminal charges?"

Mayor Darrell Bradley

The council is presently interviewing for the post of chief auditor - who will be tasked to lead a full audit of the council's finances.

Channel 7

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