Employees steal EC$63,744 from airport company

IADC Communication Officer Jennifer Richardson-Herbert announced Thursday morning that two of the company's employees had defrauded it of EC$63,744 (Photo: Facebook).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Police here are investigating a fraud ring at the International Airport Development Company (IADC), where two junior employees colluded to defraud the company of EC$63,744 by billing for more food than was delivered to the company.

IADC Communication Officer Jennifer Richardson-Herbert made the announcement to the media Thursday morning by reading a press statement but did not name the two clerks or take any question because of a possible criminal investigation.

The monies were most likely siphoned off through the system used to feed Cuban workers at the project. And it is the second time in two years that food and the IADC are at the centre of probes here.

Richardson-Herbert stroke to reassure Vincentians that the majority of the staff of the company, tasked with constructing the EC$652 million Argyle International Airport, the nation’s largest capital project ever, are honest and that citizens should continue to support the construction of the airport.

She said that the IADC recently discovered that two junior employees conspired to defraud the company of funds through the issuance of false invoices.

The company’s Accounts Department found that a purchasing clerk and a storeroom clerk “colluded possibly with the help of some vendors to bill the IADC for larger quantities of food items than were actually received by the company”.

Apparently, all parties to this collaborative fraudulent scheme shared the ill-gotten proceeds among themselves, Richardson-Herbert said.

She, however, noted that the fraud was committed through the issuance of fraudulent invoices to the company.

“No cash was stolen as we keep only small amounts of petty cash at the IADC,” Richardson-Herbert said.

About one week ago, the IADC met with the two individuals involved in the fraud and one “testified to collusion with the other staff member”. The employee who testified of involvement in the fraud resigned.

“And based on the evidence available to us, we have terminated the services of the other staff member but our investigations are continuing,” Richardson-Herbert said.

“You would understand that since this matter has a potential to become a criminal investigation, I can say no more at this time, lest we end up prejudicing any investigation that might be carried out.

“However the IADC is reserved to recover its stolen monies. And I must add here that this particular issues have been passed over to the police department and is now the subject of a criminal investigation.”

Richardson-Herbert said that the company has established “a high standard of accountability and have put in place a number of controls to safeguard the assets entrusted to us.

“In this event, two employees who should have been part of the process of safeguarding the company’s assets and should have been looking out for the good of the company instead colluded to bypass our controls to defraud the company.”

The EC$652 million Argyle International Airport if the nation’s largest capital project ever (internet photo).

This situation, Richardson-Herbert said, is “an isolated case for which we take full responsibility and would never want to see repeated at the IADC”.

“When you contribute to the project and when the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves works as hard as he does to find the monies for the project, everyone must feel ensured that the monies entrusted to us are in good hands and are being used for the purpose for which the funds are intended.

“We are currently reviewing our controls to identify changes that can be made to forge a more effective system to deter fraud while maintaining the efficiency of our operations.

“Rest assured that the overwhelming majority of the staff at the IADC are good and hardworking people whose goal is to see the completion of our international airport and the development of our beautiful country,” Richardson-Herbert said.

She further stated that as the IADC, like anywhere else, has its bad apples.

“However, we are determined not to let those few bad apples spoil the entire bunch. We recognise the awesomeness of our charge and we are determined to get it done with your help. Continue to support the project, continue to support the IADC, and, please, remain confident that the construction of your international airport is in good hands.”

She further stated that since the IADC is charged with the construction of the nation’s largest capital project “it is incumbent on us as a company to ensure that when we are entrusted with your money to carry out a job that we are careful with it.

“We must ensure that it is used for the purpose for which it was intended and that whenever a breach occurs that we take full responsibility for it and that we explain the facts to you.”

The announcement on Thursday confirmed rumours this week about the disappearance of cash at the company.

It also came exactly one week after businessman Denzil Bacchus, in fulfilling a 20-year-old promise to himself, presented to Gonsalves a cheque for EC$20,000, one-fifth of what he intends to donate to the IADC.

It is the second time in two years that food has been at the centre of misappropriation of funds at a government department here.

In 2010 a special audit of the Ministry of Health found that civil servants bought computer supplies and fast food and paid monies to the IADC contrary to government policy.

The Director of Audit then called on Lanceford Weekes, permanent secretary in the Ministry, to explain why monies allocated to the Cuban Integrated Health Programme were used for purposes not approved by Parliament.

Weekes was also asked to explain the involvement of the IADC in the CIHP.

That same year, Gonsalves ordered an audit of the Agricultural Diversification Programme amidst allegations that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Allan Alexander, son of House Speaker Hendrick Alexander, was involved in a business that sold to the Ministry at exorbitant prices, items imported tax-free in the Ministry’s name.

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17 thoughts on “Employees steal EC$63,744 from airport company

  1. Was it Ken Turkey finger lickin again, please tell us what kind of food it was and why the company buys food at all.

    Why don’t the employees pay for their own food? Is this some kind of club? Has Gonsalves dropped in for pig out?

    Posted by Peter | February 9, 2012, 11:34
  2. The company’s Accounts Department found that a purchasing clerk and a storeroom clerk “colluded possibly with the help of some vendors to bill the IADC for larger quantities of food items that were actually received by the company”.?

    Posted by Brian Dorset | February 9, 2012, 11:36
  3. what is dis…….after poor ole Ralph trotting the globe begging for money to finish dis big project deh…dem ppl just tiffing de money……..i never see dat……

    Posted by richard williams | February 9, 2012, 11:45
  4. Good observation Brian Dorset.

    Posted by smooth | February 9, 2012, 18:03
  5. You call that GREED. The person who was involved did not have to do that. He has another means of livelihood.

    Posted by progressive woman | February 9, 2012, 18:18

    Posted by UNITY FOR SVG | February 9, 2012, 20:21
  7. @ Peter the company buys food for the CUBAN workers who work there they are on a different program (because 50% of there labour is free i believe so) food and lodging is part of there deal no Ken Turkey finger Brian this could be done quite easy in a weak structure which i think was the case here storeroom clerk give accounts for the items bought or in stock and purchasing clerk send out the orders for stock…so lets say it have 4 case of something they can report it have 1 and sell 3 for themselves 50 50…i honest think they should rot in jail for this…one man beggin and u stealing him out right u already getting paid for a easy job but it not enuf….stop stealing and help build our country

    Posted by Wade | February 9, 2012, 20:25
  8. I have to agree with Peter’s comments. Let the Cubans purchase their own food. The entire system is open to fraudulent actions from the beginning.
    Why are Cubans working here when SVG nationals can do the same work? I am yet to get an honest answer.

    Posted by Vere | February 9, 2012, 23:22
  9. The petty thieves only wanted a little piece of the action, there is bigger fraud going on in higher places that will never attract an investigation. Don’t get me wrong because I don’t condone any of this kind of behavior but sadly the entire project might be the biggest fraud of all. ‘Take time, kill ants and you will find the gut’.

    Posted by Crapaud | February 10, 2012, 04:17
  10. Some of you people does read back the kind of stupidness alyo be writing for the world yo see? Or alyo so damn ignorant you cant tell the difference?

    Posted by Jason | February 10, 2012, 10:25
    • JASON.. this is a blog. It is a forum on which people expressed themselves on issues that affect them. It matter not whether what people write is sensible, stupid or makes little sense. Comments on blogs all over the world are basically the same. Some are sensible, some are intelligent and some are just plain dumb. This is no mystery. Frustrating sometimes but It is democracy!

      Posted by Olbap | February 10, 2012, 13:35
  11. This is share confusion:

    1. ….larger quantities of food items that were actually received by the company”.
    Comment: If the company actually received the food items, what is the issue here?

    2. “No cash was stolen…”
    Comment: So what exactly was stolen? Food? or Cash? But how could either food or cash be stolen? First you said that the company actually received the quantity of food. Then you said that no cash was stolen? Please help us here.

    Total confusion People!

    Please yo’all decide what yo’all want to tell people in the form of an explanation and make sure that, at least, it makes sense.

    Posted by Olbap | February 10, 2012, 13:04
  12. Wade, don’t know who told you that lie. The Cubans are paid $375 a week, a Vincentian doing a similar job $60-$100.

    We are being ripped of by the Cubans, there is nothing that they have done that a Vincentian or regional man couldn’t do.

    The food is not for Cubans.

    Wait until you see who was supplying the food, get the shock of your life.

    Posted by Peter | February 11, 2012, 00:48
  13. Who signed these cheques. Don’t blame the thieves, it’s bad judgement on part of the accountant and the persons signing these cheques. They should have peruse those account payable invoices more vegilant. I would fired the account signatories or the account payable manager. This tells you that the accounting system used is not working.

    Posted by TJ | February 13, 2012, 14:40
  14. TJ, I agree, keep the fire burning, fire them all, top to bottom.

    Every one there ate the food, fire them just for that. Knowing Cubans, if they are like Vincentians they probably took containers home to feed the family, feed the commune and feed the dogs. No not the dirty stinking dogs that Gonsalves named and told us about.

    Remember this is the ‘Christian Blood Airport’ [CBA], built with the blood of Christians, in return for a few votes by us at the UN. Vote for all the scum crap nations that persecute, murder, assassinate and execute Christians, just for being Christians.

    We are the Worlds beggers and a prostituted state, led there by Gonsalves.

    I think we are in danger of this being hushed up, disclosure could be devistating.

    Posted by Peter | February 14, 2012, 18:44
  15. Who supplied the food, tell us what connection they have with the hierarchy of the government, tell us.

    They don’t want you all to know, could become state secret.


    Posted by Peter | February 16, 2012, 21:36
  16. All zipped up and hidden in a dark cupboard.

    Posted by Peter | February 25, 2012, 17:12

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