Following the release of two damning audit reports on contracts the government issued to consultant Claude Skelton Cline and EZ Shipping, the Office of the Governor has sanctioned the assistance of legal and law enforcement agencies locally to review and take action, as may be necessary.
Governor John Rankin
made that announcement in a press conference Friday afternoon while noting that both of these audits show “failures in good governance and improper use of public funds”.
“In terms of next-steps, I have forwarded the reports on the contracts with Claude Skelton Cline to the Attorney General’s Office for the Attorney General to assess whether the government should pursue recovery of funds spent on these contracts and I’ve also asked the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police to assess if any offences were committed,” Rankin stated.
“I have similarly forwarded the EZ Shipping report to the Attorney General’s Office for assessment of whether the government should pursue recovery of any amounts paid to EZ Shipping and I’ve asked the DPP and the police to assess if any offences were committed with respect to the engagement of the marine platforms,” he added.
The Governor further noted that the most important thing is that lessons are learnt from these audit reports and that public funds are not misused going forward.
Meanwhile, the report issued by Auditor General Sonia Webster showed that Skelton Cline’s three contracts with the government from 2019 to 2021 — which netted in excess of $365,000 all together — brought nothing of value to the government.
“The audit confirmation exercises performed indicate that much of the work reported or claimed by the consultant (Skelton Cline) was undertaken by persons and programmes independent of the consultancy. In a number of cases, his association with the programmes was either fleeting or non-existent,” Webster noted in her report.
As for the EZ Shipping contract, Webster said her findings showed that the company received payments even when it provided no services. According to the report, the payments made to EZ Shipping covered two months when the barges were not used.
The audit concluded that incorrect information was provided to the National Security Council (NSC) and Cabinet to facilitate approval of the contracts and support unearned payments of more than $700,000.
Premier Dr Natalio Wheatley has effectively expressed his agreement of the findings in the Skelton Cline audit but rejected a number of the findings regarding the EZ Shipping audit report.