Categorized | National News

Griffin Confirms Fraud In Social Services

Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin not denying claims of fraudulent activity within the Department of Social Services, between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2015 in which staff members at that department were involved in using food coupons intended for Bahamians on welfare to purchase groceries for themselves.


During an interview with reporters, Minister Griffin assured that measures have been put in place as early as November 2014 to eradicate the problem.


The minister said that the coupon system presented an easy platform for fraudulent activity, especially considering the overwhelming amount of paper work involved in it.


She said that this kind of situation easily lends itself to fraud by employees as well as clients.


“It was very important for us when we returned to office to put in place an electronic system. So subsequently we introduced in November 2014 the prepaid visa card, which meant that we were able to abolish for the most part, the food coupons. So we have not actually printed food coupons for quite a few months now. So that part has stopped. So with the prepaid card we certainly expect to reduce opportunities for fraud.” said Mrs. Griffin.


Mrs. Griffin said it is the implementation of this electronic system that has actually aided in identifying the fraudulent transactions.


So far, she said, the islands covered by the pre- paid card system are most of New Providence, Grand Bahama, and a part of North Andros.


As to disciplinary action taken in the matter, Minister Griffin, said she is not willing to disclose many details surrounding the investigation.


“I expect that there would be further investigation, and I do not wish to preempt,” she said.


“Disciplinary actions have already been taken and certainly there might be further action taken. But again, I don’t want to preempt what is happening. So I think that is all I should say at this time.”


The minister’s comments came the day after an audit of the Department of Social Services was tabled in the House of Assembly revealing that staff members were involved in the fraudulent scheme.


The audit was completed by Auditor General, Terrence Bastian.


The report raises serious concerns about oversight at the department noting that more than $4 million in cheque requests paid out to suppliers without those cheques being authorized by top management.


The auditor general slammed the department noting the actions indicate a lack of accountability on the part of the executive management; charging that the coupon fraud was discovered by the Department of Social Services, but instead by the vendor.


Minister Griffin assured that the department will continue to put in place the recommendations outlined in the auditor general’s report to ensure the problem does not persist.












Written by Jones Bahamas

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