Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Several arrested as Finance Ministry uncovers internal fraud.

-no effort spared in Gov't's corruption fight

Minister within the Ministry of Finance
Dr Jennifer Webster
and Minister of Finance
Dr Ashni Singh at the press conference

Investigations into major fraud involving superannuation benefits to fictitious beneficiaries at the Accountant General’s Department have led to several arrests and charges after the quantity of transactions and beneficiaries were unveiled. The Finance Ministry after reporting the infringement recently summoned the Audit Office and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) which have identified 75 suspicious transactions totalling $196M. At a press conference yesterday, Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh in the company of Minister within the Ministry of Finance Dr Jennifer Webster reported that the findings of the investigation revealed that the 75 cheques were actually issued to as many as 54 separate beneficiaries for which at least 14 had repeat transactions.

Additionally, all the beneficiaries who encashed the cheques were identified and many are assisting the police in the ongoing investigation. Some have been arrested including staff of the Accountant General’s department. Minister Singh disclosed that three persons have to date been charged including one member of staff.

Bulletins had been issued in the newspapers during the investigations, prompting the cooperation of many who voluntarily went in to the police. Minister Singh noted however, that not all those wanted for questioning turned themselves in. “It is our intention to interview all of them,” Minister Singh said noting that the police and the audit office were given the full support of the administration including in relation to the use of the fraudulently obtained funds to acquire personal assets.

He assured that the administration will spare no effort in ensuring that the perpetrators and their accomplices face the full extent of the applicable laws and that the strongest available penalties are brought to bear against them, including forfeiture of assets.
The scenario, according to Minister Singh, has allowed the administration to identify certain breaches in procedures that were committed in perpetrating the fraud and to correct them, ensure compliance and recruitment of staff.

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