A special report by the Auditor General has raised questions about the circumstances in which the Caribbean Maritime University, CMU President Professor Fritz Pinnock, was reimbursed by the CMU for fixed assets costing $US12,700.
According to the report, items purchased by Pinnock for which he was reimbursed include – tablets and recorders, an apple watch, two laptops and a cellular phone.
The Special Auditor General report reviewed the period between financial years 2016/ 2017 and 2018/2019.
The Auditor-General says the CMU said the items were purchased by the President for the University.
But according to the Auditor General, there was no record of the items being part of the CMU’s fixed assets register.
Additionally, the Auditor General says the items were not presented by the CMU to her audit team for inspection.
According to the special Auditor General report, the CMU also failed to provide supporting documentation for 14 reimbursements to the President totalling US 1-hundred-and-17-thousand dollars between December 2016 and March 2019.
The Auditor-General says in another instance, the CMU reimbursed the President just over half a million dollars for hotel accommodation for a visit to Cuba.
But the Auditor General says it could not determine the basis upon which the President was reimbursed because the CMU had already provided US-6-thousand-6-hundred dollars to cover accommodation and meal expenses, along with incidental costs.
The Auditor-General says after it prepared its draft report in August last year and highlighted the issue, the CMU President paid back US 4-thousand-7-hundred dollars to the University.
In raising additional concerns, the Auditor General’s report also noted that the Ministry spent $J674,000 on a private birthday party for then Education Minister, Ruel Reid.
And $J430,000 on an appreciation dinner for the then Permanent Secretary in the Education Ministry.
The report says then Chief Education Officer approved a surprise party for the CMU President which cost 4-hundred thousand dollars.
But the Auditor General says it appears the Ministry recorded the payments for the entertainment events as expenditure on meetings between the CMU and the Education Ministry.
According to the Auditor General’s report, the Education Ministry explained that the then Chief Education Minister approved the expenditure on the party for the President because she was ordered by then Education Minister, Ruel Reid, to coordinate the activity.
Reid was fired by Prime Minister Holness in March last year.
Both Reid and Professor Pinnock were charged with fraud in October that year.
The men have strongly denied wrongdoing.