In February 2015, a leaked Auditors’ report into the affairs of the National Gas Company revealed concerns by the company’s internal audit team, about fraud and misappropriation of public funds in the company that generated profits to the sum of $6.5 BILLION.
Among the shocking revelations are:
- Escalation of the budget of the Corporate Communications Department from $67 million to $200 million
- Expenditure of $1,073,497.80 on Carnival fete tickets
- Blatant disregard for Company rules governing expenditure
- Failure to follow established procedures
- Failure to obtain approvals for increased expenditure
- 50% – 114% increases in expenditure for various categories of the Department’s operations
- Absence of records to support the Department’s risk management of community-related projects that are impacted by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) and the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, which can be viewed as breaches of the legislations, especially as NGC’s published Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) statement indicated that the company maintains these records.
Not to mention, in March 2015, revelations emerged that the NGC inflated the cost of a community project by 100%, from $4.5 million to $9,045,285.
Kanhai Road Environmental Sports and Cultural Organisation (KRES-CO) had written to NGC Corporate Communications Manager, Charmaine Mohammed in Febraury 2014, requesting the sum of $4.5 million to construct a pavilion/activity centre for its recreational facility. The NGC Board of Directors approved the amount upon the endorsement of NGC’s President, Indar Maharaj.
Subsequently, the Board was presented with a note saying that the revised cost of the project was $9,045,285 – an increase of %100. Furthermore, the note specified that the money for the project would come from – the NGC Community Economic Development Budget.
The NGC told KRESCO that it would obtain a contractor through the tendering process, but never indicated that the cost would be double.
Separate and apart from the NGC’s abuse of office, at that time, they presented themselves as corrupt thieves, engaging in collusion to steal and defraud.
The NGC responded to these initial revelations of financial mismanagement through a full page advertisement that denied that there had even been an audit, and further attempts to question the competence of its internal auditors.
While the Opposition at the time and Independent members of the Committee were in favour of immediate discussions surrounding the NGC crisis, the People’s Partnership members of the Committee refused to allow the crisis to be brought forward for discussion.
Questions soon arose into the safety of the audit team surrounding this issue…
Follow up story to be published soon.