Transactions amounting to over half-million dollars are being questioned by the Auditor General, Dorothy Bradley. Bradley submitted an audit report in late October to the Prime Minister where she highlighted several questionable transactions and where she has recommended that further investigations be conducted into them. One of the cases has to do with the former Minister of State in the Ministry of Sports, Herman Longsworth. In this case, Longsworth conducted financial transactions on behalf of a company, GO ENTERPRISES Limited which lists its directors as Elsworth Goff and Araceliana Orio. GO ENTERPRISES Limited was contracted to conduct construction works at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex and was paid one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. According to the report, both directors of the company were questioned on the contract to which they replied that they have never received any monies from the GO ENTERPRISES Limited nor were they aware of the transactions being conducted for and on behalf that company. Following further investigations into the monies, the report notes that of the total amount, five thousand dollars were deposited into Longsworth’s personal account and thirty-five thousand dollars were deposited into the account for the UDP Albert Committee. The Auditor-General subsequently wrote in her report, quote, “the award of works to Go Enterprise Limited warrants further investigation because it can be viewed that Minister Longsworth and the Directors, (Goff and Orio) may have violated the Prevention of Corruption Act Chapter 105 of the Laws of Belize.” End of quote. In the very same report, there is another instance of questionable transactions involving the former Senior Accounts Clerk, Ivan Ayuso. The report noted that over a period of one year, it appears that Ayuso embezzled four hundred and sixteen thousand, two hundred and twenty-eight dollars and twenty-five cents ($416,228.26) from the National Sports Council. The report states, quote, “our audit revealed that the Senior Accounts Clerk had manipulated the pay sheets and may have siphoned the money into his personal accounts at three commercial banks.” End of quote. The report goes on to show that Ayuso falsified a job letter to one of the local banks indicating that his salary for the year was sixty-one thousand dollars; that letter was signed by the Booking Clerk, Shawn Lino and not one of Ayuso’s superiors. Another issue pointed out in the report after reviewing copies of vouchers was the handling of cash and cheques. The report notes, quote, “National Sports Council employed a process that was not acceptable. We observed that the NSC conducted some of its business using CASH. The practice was that cheques were made in officers’ names who in turn would cash these cheques and return the monies to the former Acting Director of Sports, Patrick Henry, who would then conduct the business of the council”. End of quote. In one instance, a cheque for over fourteen thousand dollars was made out to Edwin Castro, the grounds-keeper; a second cheque was made out to Shawn Lino for over twenty-two thousand dollars and in a third instance, a cheque of ten thousand dollars was made out to Tiffany Heusner, another employee of the council. Love News asked the Prime Minister to comment on the audits.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I can tell you is that it’s being laid on the table on Friday and one into Julian Cho both will be laid. So it will then become public and you can ask all the questions you like.”
Reporter: But in a case like this where the Auditor General is questioning certain transactions and where there is like over $400,000 that they can’t account for, what do you do in a situation like that.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I would think you use the Auditor General’s findings and you turn those over to the police.”
Reporter: Is that your intention ?
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Absolutely.”
Our newsroom continues to review the document and will have more in our subsequent news reports. Love News understands that the audit was done at the request of the Ministry of Education when financial issues were brought to their attention. The Auditor General’s Report will be tabled tomorrow at the House of Representatives meeting in Belmopan.