Auditor ‘disappointed’ in UCCI board

Auditor General Dan Duguay said Thursday that his requests to meet with the Board of Governors at the University College of the Cayman Islands to discuss ‘extremely serious’ unsubstantiated expenditures have not been honoured.

Mr. Duguay said he met with Board Chairman Conor O’Dea on 5 May to provide information that was uncovered in a routine audit of UCCI accounts for the government’s 2006-07 financial year. The auditor also requested that a meeting of the UCCI Board of Governors be convened to review the matter.

In a follow-up letter dated 13 May, Mr. Duguay reiterated the point.

‘I consider these matters to be extremely serious and would therefore request that this meeting be held as soon as possible,’ the letter from Mr. Duguay to Mr. O’Dea read.

Mr. O’Dea responded on 15 May in a letter that stated the situation ‘was a priority’ for him.

As of 22 June, the meeting between the auditor’s office and the board had not occurred.

‘We have not been able to present information to the entire board yet,’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘I am disappointed.’

A spokesman for Mr. O’Dea told the Caymanian Compass that the UCCI Board would be meeting at some point this week. It was not clear whether the auditor’s office would be invited to attend or make a presentation.

It was revealed on 6 June in the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee that the auditor’s office had referred a matter involving unsubstantiated financial transactions involving former UCCI President Hassan Syed to the Financial Crimes Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

A letter sent the same day from Mr. O’Dea to Mr. Duguay stated that the UCCI Board Chairman had addressed the matter with the full board and that members had decided to appoint an independent firm to ‘carry out a review of the system of internal controls as well as determine the full extent of the unsubstantiated expenditures.’

The letter also stated that the Deloitte firm would perform the review once the board received funding approval from the Ministry of Education.

Also in the 6 June letter, Mr. O’Dea asked that a copy of the auditor general’s draft report on the unsubstantiated expenditures be forwarded to board members ‘so that I can share it with the board and have a meaningful meeting with you (referring to Mr. Duguay) later this month.’

Mr. Duguay said he refused to forward the report because he wanted to meet with the board personally and go through the audit with the members.

He added that he was uncertain why the UCCI Board of Governors planned to hire Deloitte since the auditor general’s office could provide advice on financial controls and that determining ‘the full extent of the unsubstantiated expenditures’ was essentially a matter for police now.

‘If they (Deloitte) are reviewing matters connected to the (police) investigation, they might want to reconsider that,’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘My professional opinion is that they’d want to stay out of this investigation.’

In his 6 June correspondence to the auditor general, Mr. O’Dea was critical of Mr. Duguay’s decision to involve the Financial Crimes Unit of the RCIPS in the investigation before he had spoken to the Board of Governors and allowed them to fully review the situation.

‘It is possible the board will determine that a police investigation is merited, but we will await the full independent review before so concluding or otherwise,’ Mr. O’Dea wrote in the letter.

Mr. Duguay said he met with members of the Financial Crimes Unit on either 2 May or 5 May, just a short while before he spoke with Mr. O’Dea about the unsubstantiated expenditures.

‘This office will always, if we believe a crime has been committed, take these matters to the police,’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘I don’t need the permission of the (UCCI) Board of Governors to talk to the Financial Crimes Unit.’

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