Categorized | National News

Audited BPL Report Reveals Abuse

Minister of Works Desmond Bannister said the audited report from Ernst and Young confirmed that Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) theft scandal involved a total of some 41 fraudulent cheques that were issued to 13 fictitious vendors totaling over $1.8 million.


Mr. Bannister highlighted the findings of the report in House of Assembly on Wednesday where he revealed that three additional fake cheques were issued to legitimate vendors totaling more than $126,000.


The handovers took place before the May 10 general elections and according to Mr. Bannister, they were laid out in a draft report during a recent forensic investigation at BPL.


Mr. Bannister further noted that the report is still being reviewed by police, but it raises serious questions the company must confront as it moves forward.


“First, the report identified numerous instances where the tender process was not followed. Many contracts were awarded in excess of $100,000 for which no formal tender had been performed. In other instances, there was no evidence of any procurement analysis or of other quotations being obtained,” he said.


“There were also instances where contracts were awarded to vendors who had not been selected in the tendering process, thereby rejecting the companies that had actually submitted better bids; and in one egregious case a company that did not even bid was awarded a contract over the company that has followed the process, and to whom the tenders’ committee has approved the award of a contract.”


Citing one example after another, the minister said in two instances, J.S Johnson was the winning contractor in the bidding process for insurance coverage.


However, both contracts were subsequently issued to Sunshine Insurance.


The report advised that altogether, BPL had spent more than $14 million with Sunshine Insurance during the period under investigation and there were similar irregularities and concerns with how BPL violated business norms.


“Contracts were approved for entities that were owned by former BEC board members. This is troubling, and all of us ought to be concerned. The report identifies many instances of lack of vendor due diligence,” he said.


“The chairman of the corporation was permitted to be involved in operational procurement activity. There was no clarity as to who has the authority to create vendor profiles and in several cases there was no supporting documentation for payments.”


Minister Bannister said in the long-term, BPL has to institute better controls so as to ensure that its business is conducted in a more ethical, transparent and accountable manner.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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