Auditor General stays in the spotlight

As has been the case for the past several years, Auditor General Dan Duguay was featured in several news stories in 2008 and he attracted a certain amount of controversy.

Mr. Duguay first made news in the year when he announced in March that his office would conduct a review of the contract awarded to Matrix International Ltd. to remove scrap metal from the George Town Landfill. Because the scrap metal had salvage value, Matrix had agreed to pay $1.2 million for it, but very little of that amount was actually paid.

Perhaps the most controversy attracted by Mr. Duguay happened in April as a result of his January 2006 report on the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal construction project. That report became topical again because the Public Accounts Committee began its required review of the report. Testimony of witnesses called before the PAC on the matter was conducted in public for the first time in at least eight years.

One of the witnesses, architect and Royal Watler Cruise Terminal Project Manager Burns Conolly testified that Mr. Duguay had parts of his report wrong, especially with regard to cost increases due to changes of scope in the project that had been approved by Port Authority management.

Mr. Conolly demanded Mr. Duguay either retract or change his 2006 report, but the auditor general said it was up to the PAC to make such changes when it prepared its report. Mr. Conolly responded by asking Governor Stuart Jack to investigate Mr. Duguay under the remit of good governance.

In June, the auditor general once again was in the news, this time when it was revealed during the Legislative Assembly budget session finance committee that he had found irregularities with expenditures of former University College of the Cayman Islands President Hassan Syed.

In late July, Mr. Duguay released a report about government entities being years behind in submitting their financial records to his office for auditing, describing the situation as ‘deplorable’ and a ‘national crisis’. He pointed out that at least $1.5 billion of government operating expenses had not been properly accounted for.

A few days later, the Caymanian Compass published an article that detailed the contents of Mr. Duguay’s ‘draft for discussion’ report about the account irregularities at UCCI. Although the report was not for the public like most of his special reports, a copy of it was provided to the Compass. It detailed how Mr. Syed spent nearly $300,000 on things like jewellery, spa treatments, meals at restaurants, airline tickets, hotels and furniture.

In September, Mr. Duguay released his report on the Matrix scrap metal contract. The report noted, among other things, that the Central Tenders Committee awarded the contract without several of its own tender requirements being met by Matrix. The CTC also did not do enough due diligence on Matrix in spite of a warning by the solicitor general’s office, the report stated.

October saw the release of the Auditor General’s report on the purchase of a helicopter for the Royal Cayman Islands Police Services. The report concluded, among other things, that unless certain restrictions of Cayman’s Civil Aviation Authority could be modified, the helicopter’s use would be severely limited and should be sold. Mr. Duguay also noted the lack of discussion of all pertinent facts concerning the helicopter between all of the necessary parties.

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