Investigation of Treasury Department theft continues; officer put on leave

Last week Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed that some $500,000 was taken from the Public Treasury at the Central Bank Building in Belize City. Officials in the Department are accused of deliberately diverting funds by substituting a false bank account number. Today Financial Secretary Joseph Waight offered an update, announcing that one officer is on leave and police continue to hunt for the clues that will lead to an arrest.

 

Joseph Waight – GOB’s Financial Secretaryvlcsnap-2015-04-22-10h15m58s9
“The matter is still under investigation. The audit has been called in, the police have been called in and we are hoping that it will yield to sufficient information that will lead to a timely arrest and in conviction.  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
“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
“We think it’s within the last 6 months. 

 

The figure now stands at $550,000 taken in four separate payments, two larger than the others, and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has been called in to join the investigation. Secretary Waight explains who has been affected by the action, in addition to taxpayers indirectly.

Joseph Waightvlcsnap-2015-04-22-12h17m07s6

“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. But some of the money is gone.”

 

 According to the Financial Secretary he learned of the theft just around the Easter holidays while the Prime Minister was out of town at the Summit of the Americas and he sought more information to confirm what happened before briefing the P.M. on his return

About the Author