Saturday, February 24, 2018

Audit shows absence of control mechanisms

 An audit conducted on the T&T Boxing Board of Control (TTBBC) by auditor KC Sinanan on behalf of the Ministry of Sport, has identified the absence of control mechanisms which would ensure the effective functioning of the board.

The report covered the period October 2010 – September 2011 and came as a request from the ministry via a letter dated December 13, 2011.

The board at the time was chaired by Dr Kenneth Sebastian Smith.

The letter requested an audit of the “utilisation of State funds provided to the TTBBC”.

The report states that several documents were examined, while 23 cheques remain unaccounted for.

The report which has been obtained by the Sunday Express was presented to Sport Minister Anil Roberts on April 24, 2012. 

Sources say the report was also forwarded to the Integrity Commission where certain recommendations were made. Sources say this was the last audit conducted on the affairs of the Boxing Board.

All the former board members who sat on Smith’s board are currently on the present board. The current board comprises deputy chairman Imtiaz Zaid Mohammed, secretary Vijay Bhaggan, members Shama Stroude, Neale Greaves, Keven Antoine and Colin Mills.

The board’s chairman Deopersad Ramoutar is currently on suspension following allegations of financial impropriety. His suspension took effect on December 10 last year, and came following a board of directors meeting held on October 16, 2013.

Several efforts to get a comment from Roberts, Permanent Secretary Ashwin Creed and Mohammed as to whether the recommendations given were implemented were unsuccessful and messages left were not returned.

According to the report, Cabinet Minute 965 of April 22,  2011, increased the annual subvention of the Boxing Board from $10,000 to $1,505,600. This was done to enable the board to meet its operational expenses. 

A breakdown of the expenses saw committee allowances receiving $423,600; salaries and allowances to staff $276,000; goods and services $501,000; equipment purchases $155,000 and transfers and subsidies $150,000.

The report noted several challenges were encountered including that of untimely submissions of minutes (when submitted bore no signatures and none of the minutes were confirmed), the unavailability of documents (contracts, lease and rental agreements), non-submission of cheque payment vouchers, all bank reconciliation statements ,evidence of statutory deductions and difficulty in accessing information on the Tobago office.

The payment of salaries to unqualified employees was also raised in the report. The audit found that upon examination of the minutes “salaries paid to the staff of the TTBBC were never approved by the board”.

There was also evidence to suggest that deductions for national insurance, income tax (TD 4 slips) and health surcharge were not being paid.

In instances where cheque payments vouchers were provided — 40 per cent bore no signature indicating authority, prepared by, authorised by and received by.

“Inconsistencies with salaries with no explanations for variances, persons were hired for positions without the requisite qualifications and no letters of appointment or contracts was produced for audit inspection.”

In total $664,846.50 was spent on TTBBC office staff salaries  from December 2010 – September 2011.

Eight of the posts for which individuals received monies were not stated.

No lease or rental agreement was seen for premises occupied at 24 Finland Street, St James.

Records obtained showed period of occupancy from November 2010 April 2011. Bills totaling $121,813.08 for the said premises was submitted.

Within the six month period internet services totaled $24,500, rent — $66,000; WASA $7,000; T&TEC $2,744; janitorial/maintenance $18,000 and TSTT $3,569.08

Summary of findings:

• The unauthorised payment of committee allowances to Board members would have been prevented by the presence of accounting and Human Resource Departments

• The rental of premises when only one room was used for TTBBC business

• The absence of a lease agreement, and payment of a receptionist not TTBC staff also for full utility, janitorial and maintenance bills.

• The duplication of payment for car rental for Tobago

• The payment for Tobago expenses without authorised documentation and supporting bills

• The refund for travel expenses without production of travel stubs.

• Partial delivery of stationary purchases

• Reimbursements to persons without proper supporting documentation. 

—Denyse Renne