Acting Auditor General, Winsley Nanka, on August 22, 2013 released two reports to the National Legislature.
They include: Special Financial Investigation of the double payment made by the Board and the Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) to Madam Adama Barry and Mr. Charles Larma, parents of the child killed by LPRC vehicle on August 25, 2010, and (b) audit of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority for the fiscal years 2009 through 2011.
The GAC report observed that the Board of Directors of the LPRC along with its Management sanctioned and disbursed double payments of US$30,000 to parents of two-year old Marcus Larma. Marcus Larma was accidentally killed by the LPRC's vehicle driven by Patrick Flomo, an employee of the entity.
The Parents of Marcus Larma filed a lawsuit of 1.5 million United States Dollars against the LPRC Management for wrongful death at the civil law court. The Board of Directors of the LPRC opted for an out-of-court settlement to avoid the risk of paying 1.5 million United States Dollars.
The report noted that the Board mandated Madam Nowai Gbilia, one of its members to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with the parents of Marcus Larma. Madam Nowai Gbilia was paid US$5,000 as fee to carry out the negotiation on behalf of the company.
Madam Nowai Gbilia acted inappropriately by negotiating with one of the parents of late Marcus Larma, thereby causing Management to make payment to the said parent without the legal representatives of the complaining party and the LPRC's lawyers. The special financial investigation report further observed that the Board and the Management of the LPRC failed to exercise sufficient due diligence in making the payment.
The GAC report further observed that the approval and disbursement of US$5,000 to Madam Nowai Gbilia for services rendered to the LPRC in connection with the out-of-court settlement, while serving as a board member, was in violation of article 90 (b) of the Liberian constitution. This provision states that no person holding public office shall demand and receive any perquisites, emoluments or benefits, directly or indirectly on account of any duty required by Government.
The GAC report further noted that Madam Nowai Gbilia and the other members of the Board were being compensated by the LPRC for serving as Board members; therefore, she was not entitled to any additional compensation for negotiating a settlement between the LPRC and the parents of the deceased child.
The GAC report therefore stated that Madam Nowai Gbilia should refund the US$5,000 to the LPRC because she was compensated by the LPRC to serve as a Board member; therefore she was not entitled to any additional compensation for providing services to the LPRC.
According to the GAC Report, the LPRC Managing Director, T. Nelson Williams instructed the LPRC Comptroller through a memo dated November 17, 2011to make a third-party payment of US$30,000 to Atty. Witness Doryen, an employee of the LPRC. This instruction was a clear violation of Rule 23 of the Financial Rules of 2009.
This Rule states that payment for goods and services shall be made only to the vendor/service provider. No payment shall be made to third party. Atty. Witness Doryen is an in-house counsel and employee of the LPRC and should not have been used as the payee in this transaction.
The report further observed that the conduct of the LPRC Board and the Management in the handling of the out-of-court settlement was characterized by compliance deviations, resulting in a loss of US$35,000 to the company. The loss of US$35,000 comprised, the second payment of US$30,000 made to the father of the deceased, and the payment of US$5,000 to a Board member, Madam Nowai Gbilia.
The compliance committee of the LPRC Board of Directors alluded to this as procedural errors on the part of the Management in making the first out-of-court payment of US$30,000 to Madam Adama Barry. Therefore, the GAC report recommended that The Board and the Managing Director of the LPRC should be reprimanded by the President for causing the LPRC a financial loss of US$35,000 as a result of hiring the services of Madam Nowai Gbilia, a Board member.
The report noted that Madam Adama Barry and Mr. Charles Larma, parents of the deceased child claimed that they received US$17,900,00 and US$6,000.00 respectively, instead of US$60,000.00 portraying mistrust on the part of the LPRC Management and other parties that participated in the out-of-court settlement. Officer Bill S.
Thomas, Liberia National Police (LNP) Officer who witnessed the first out-of-court payment receipt was interviewed by the special financial investigation team. Officer Bill S Thomas confirmed Madam Adama Barry's claim that she received US$17,900.
The GAC report further noted that the Managing Director, T. Nelson Williams and Board member Norwai Gbilia followed Madam Adama Barry to LBDI to encash the out of court settlement on December 24, 2010. According to the GAC, Madam Adama Barry should have signed for the check at the LPRC's compound and for the LPRC Management, the transaction should have been completed at that stage. It was unnecessary for the LPRC's officials to follow Madam Adama Barry to the bank, the report said.
According to the report, Mr. T. Nelson Williams claimed Madam Gloria Menjor, the General Manager of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) was present when Madam Adama Barry received US$30,000 from board member Madam Gbilia. However, Madam Menjor in an interview with the GAC, denied that she was present when Madam Adama Barry received the US$30,000 from Madam Gbilia.
On the audit of the LTA, the GAC report observed that the management of LTA operated without a budget for three months (January through March 2009) during the tenure of Mr. Albert Bropleh as Chairman of LTA. Expenditure incurred during this period amounted to US$336,109.13.
"The LTA operated without an approved budget for a period of seven months (April through October 2009) during the tenures of Mr. Lamini A. Warity and Madam Agelique E. Weeks as Acting Chairman and Acting Chairperson of the Board of Commissioners respectively," said the report.
The report continued : "Expenditure incurred during the tenure of Mr. Warity without an approved budget amounted to US$ 365,003.92, and the expenditure incurred during the tenure of Madam Weeks without an approved budget amounted to $475,949.54.The total financial impact of these omissions were US$1,177,062.59."These omissions were violations of the Telecommunications Act of 2007."
Therefore, the report recommended that Mr. Bropleh, Mr. Warity and Madam Weeks be held accountable for the expenditure incurred without authority.
The report observed that the LTA disbursed an amount of US$183,000.00 on per-diem for its officials on foreign travels which were not in accordance with GOL's Foreign Travel Ordinance. Based on the rate indicated in the travel ordinance on foreign travel, according to the Acting Auditor General's calculation, an amount of US$134,216.25 should have been the appropriate amount to be spent on per-diem for foreign travels for the audited period. Therefore, the report recommended that the employees and officials of LTA who incurred the expenditure of US$48,783.75 on foreign travels without adhering to the prescribed rates set in the Foreign Travel Ordinance be held to account for the US$48,783,75
The report also indicated that Foreign travel incidental allowances amounting to US$29,700 were incurred by some employees and officials of LTA without adhering to the procedures and guidelines as it relates to the retirement of travel documents for incidental allowances paid for said travels.
Payment vouchers for incidental allowances on Foreign Travel were not supported with the travel disbursement forms and retirement documentation, therefore, the report recommended that employees and officials who did not retire their incidental allowances should be held to account for the amount of US$29,700.
According to the GAC Report, there was no evidence that the LTA Management prepared financial statements on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis. The report said the GAC requested financial statements from the management of LTA on June 18, 2012, during the planning phase of the audit engagement for the period under audit. The LTA Management was not able to provide financial statements until May 27, 2013, after the audit report had been drafted. This omission denied the Acting Auditor General the basis of expressing an opinion on the financial statements.
The report further noted that for the periods under audit, the Management of LTA did not adhere to the Public Procurement and Concessions Act for the procurement of some capital assets. Examination of document revealed that procurement of capital goods amounting to US$216,520.00 were not supported by relevant documentation.
Given the significance of these and other matters noted in these reports, the GAC is urging the President of the Republic of Liberia, the Speaker and members of House of Representatives and Pro-Tempore and members of the Liberian Senate to consider the implementation of the recommendations conveyed in these reports.