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PUC Audit Raises Questions

Posted By: Marty

PUC Audit Raises Questions - 01/05/18 11:52 AM

The working papers for an audit of the Public Utilities Commission is raising eyebrows and could stir a political storm two months before municipal elections.

The Audit is for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017, and, in his august Management Letter, accountant Cedric Flowers points to a few worrying details in his letter to the board of the PUC.

He notes that there were over $50,000 dollars in donations for which he found no evidence of approval by the Commission.

As regards the Raspberry PI Program where the PUC purchased a large number of computers for youth training, Flowers notes, quote, "substantial modification of previously approved expenditures, payment of unbudgeted expenses, lack of proper support for expenditures, and financing of its operations without an approved budget."

And what caught our attention was the over $70,000 in credit card purchases where, according to the auditor, quote, "several of the expenditures were of a nature which did not appear to have any direct relationship to the activities of the PUC." And what were those credit card funds spent on? Well, it looks like a PUC Jolly!

The details are in another series of notes in a tranche of documents leaked to the media. It seems to have been compiled for the Prime Minister, presumably, by a disgruntled former employee. It says, quote, "some of these expenses referred to non-PUC business. Eg: Riverside Tavern, Barcelo Tours, Macy's, Kahana Boutique, Royal Caribbean Cruise, Perry Ellis etc..." This former employee concludes, quote, "$272,000 paid out since 2008 in credit card expenses."

That's a quarter million dollars in credit card bills, but it pales in comparison to the cost of a property for a new PUC Headquarters. The 13.5 acres of land - which is near the Bel China bridge cost 950,000 dollars with three hundred thousand dollars paid so far for filling it.

And then there's the issue of the architect which the auditor suggests is a related parties transaction between the firm and a PUC Commissioner. That's another quarter million dollars.

Speaking to us today, the Chairman of the PUC John Avery stressed, quote, "there is no completed audit report from our auditor for the period ending March 31, 2017." As for the letter sent by accountant Cedric Flowers, Avery says they cannot comment on an ongoing audit process.

He adds, quote, "we have had a cursory view of some of the documents and they are unsubstantiated." He stressed that there are no final documents from the PUC so the whole story is unsubstantiated and the PUC won't waste time answering questions about that.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: PUC Audit Raises Questions - 01/06/18 11:34 AM

PM Will Wait For Final PUC Audit

The Prime Minster was reluctant today to comment on the allegations of reckless spending at the Public Utilities Commission.

As we have reported - the contents of an un-finalized audit has been circulated in the media. It shows suspect and lavish spending and misuse of the PUC's Credit card. Today the Prime Minister held to the line which the PUC has been using: the audit isn't finished yet:

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"It's a little murky and I would really want to wait to see the final audit and then try to get legal advice on the particular issues. There are two things involved, what was spent, how much was spent and on what the expenditures were. That's number one, and then number two, were the expenditures, all of the expenditures within the power of the PUC to make. I really have to suspend judgement until we can look at each in turn."

Reporter
"You said you have not seen the audit, but have you received any letter from him with regards to some of the issues that have now come out?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"Not as far as I know, I told you that an ex-employee of the PUC had provided me with an unofficial copy of the preliminary report of the audit. I did not get anything official from Cedric Flowers. I did speak to him and he made plain that he was not in a position to in fact release anything official until the process was completed."

The PUC today put out a statement saying, quote, "The alleged documents that are being circulated are not the official records of the PUC, are unsubstantiated, and are not related to any ongoing audit. The PUC therefore cautions media establishments and the public to desist from making, publishing or broadcasting erroneous and defamatory statements about the PUC, its Commissioners and members of staff…". We note that our review of the documents - in the main - show material that has every appearance of authenticity.

Channel 7

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