Maybe its corruption fatigue, but with the beginning of 2018 comes new charges of corruption within Government; this time a statutory body known as the PUC; Public Utilities Commission. The leaked document occurred sometime early this week and already Chairman of PUC John Avery has come out publicly to distance himself from the reports. And the reports are troubling: a letter purported to be written by Certified Public Accountant Cedric Flowers is among the leaked documents. We understand that Flowers himself has denied that the documents have been leaked from his office, but the letterhead appears to be that of his Firm’s. The letter is dated August 11 of 2017 and is addressed to John Avery, Chairman of The Public Utilities Commission. The letter states that its purpose is to bring to Avery’s attention certain matters which could have material impact on the financial statement and the Audit report itself. The letter then goes into specific queries including:
ONE – Unsigned and incomplete Minutes of Commission meetings, unavailable minutes which provide disclosure of decisions as to how PUC monies are to be spent.
TWO – the letter highlights over 50 thousand dollars worth of donations made without evidence of approval from the Commission.
THREE – The withholding of taxes payable to government as required by law, as well as the lack of reporting to Income Tax subsidies paid out to commissioners.
FOUR- The letter also highlights the Raspberry PI Program spearheaded and sponsored by the PUC. It says “We have observed cases of substantial modification of previously approved expenditures, payment of unbudgeted expense, lack of proper support for expenditures, and financing of operations without an approved budget.” End quote.
Number FIVE – the letter notes over 70 thousand dollars in Credit Card purchases which lack proper supporting documentation and several payments had nothing to do with PUC activity.
And finally, SIX – the letter highlights 2 popular companies that received preferential treatment from the PUC but there was no evidence that “…a transparent selection process involving other entities; neither was there any indication of disclosure of relations hip by/or recusal of the related commissioners from the decision making process.”
The documents leaked do contain a response from the PUC to the Auditor dated 15th of August, or 4 days after the letter we read from. And while the response letter from the PUC is unsigned, we have placed some of the responses in our newscast for transparency. Here are excerpts from the response regarding incomplete Minutes and financial statement .The PUC said ” We confirm, to the best of our knowledge and belief as of August 15, 2017 the following representations made to you during your audit:
- The financial statements referred to above are fairly presented in conformity with International Financial Reporting Standards;
- We have made available to you all a. Financial records and related data; … those minutes are not available at the PUC and we understand that our failure to provide audit evidence in a timely manner could constitute a limitation on the scope of the audit and may preclude us from issuing an unqualified opinion .We believe that uncorrected financial statement misstatements are immaterial, both individually and in the aggregate. “
Regarding Credit card expenses the PUC said “Expenditures made with the use of the Commission’s credit card(s) have been authorized and were confined to expenditures of the Commission. In the event that expenditures were made for purchases other than for approved activities of the Commission, those amounts have been properly reimbursed to the Commission (or alternatively, arrangements have been made for reimbursement), of which a full accounting will be disclosed to yourselves; “
Regarding the Rasbery PI Program over-expenditure, the PUC said “ All expenditures in relation the Raspberry PI Program have been made with the knowledge and consent of the Board of Commissioners, including reimbursement of personal expenses of the principal of that program. “
And as it relates to conflict of interest in the giving of Contracts to companies with apparent conflict of interest , the PUC said ” The Commission has complied with all aspects of contractual agreements that would have a material effect on the financial statements in the event of noncompliance. “
There is much more to the leaked document that we will review and share with you in subsequent newscasts.