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Audit was requested by the Vice Chancellor [Ganesh Chand] to investigate the usage of Credit Card facilities maintained at CMNHS Project Office held by the Dean Professor Rouse and Dr. Berlin Kafoa.
A list of transaction was provided by the Director Finance for which the acquittals had to be verified against its usage. These transactions are the payments made to clear off the Credit Card Expenses. Audit requested for the acquittals from the Project Finance Officer, Ms. Jocelyn Prasad and was provided with only few acquittals while the rest were not available.
2.1.2 Credit Card Holder – Project Office Team Leader, Dr. Berlin Kafoa
A list of transaction for Dr. Berlin’s Credit Card payment was provided to Ms. Jocelyn to submit the acquittals. Refer to attachment 1 (b) for individual details of each transaction. Tabulated below are the summary details of the monthly transactions:
Audit further noted that a local transfer lodgment receipt was provided for the expenditure payment of $202.95 to Tappoos Duty Free in Nadi Airport by Dr. Berlin from the 29th April to 30th May 2010.
It was also noted that Ms. Jocelyn Prasad the Project Finance Officer lied and misled audit when she stated in her cover page that full acquittals were provided for four credit card transactions when in actual fact audit discovered that these four were incomplete as some receipts were still yet to be acquitted till to date.
These are the only acquittals that could be obtained for Dr. Berlin and Prof Rouse Credit Cards while only copies of the bank statements were provided for the other requested payments.
According to Ms. Jocelyn that those are the only acquittals in the files and therefore other acquittals were not submitted to the Project Finance Office or are missing.
The request for acquittals for all the transactions were made on the 26th of September, 2013 and audit managed to obtain those available on the 18th of October, 2013 after a lapse of more than 3 weeks and yet all acquittals were not available.
2.2 Incomplete and Non Acquittals of Expenses
Audit investigation revealed that majority of the expenses incurred were not acquitted at all and some were only partly acquitted. Instead of attaching the receipts as the usual practice to account for the expenses incurred, the normal trend in the College of Medicine was the letters were written under the Fiji School of Medicine letter head confirming that the credit card holder with card numbers had incurred the said expenditures. This is normally done for Dr Berlin. Audit could not consider such letters as the actual acquittals and is totally unacceptable. Refer to attachment 5 for some examples.
In the absence of the proper receipts and using the letters as acquittal receipt is unacceptable and reflects the negligent and laxity attitude of the Dr Berlin and the Project Finance Officer, Ms Jocelyn. This also indicates that some expenses incurred could have been for personal use and abuse by the card holders.
It is the responsibility of both the Card Holders and Ms. Jocelyn to ensure that receipts for each transaction are filed and maintained properly.
2.3 Credit Card Usage
2.3.1 Dr. Berlin Credit Card, number 4999-6400-0009-0686
Audit noted that the Credit Card, number 4999-6400-0009-0686, held by Dr. Berlin was used at Tappoos Duty Free Shop Nadi Airport on 21st May, 2010 for a value of $202.95. Investigation for the credit card usage started on the 2nd of October 2012 and it was during that period on 21st of December, 2012 that Dr Berlin reimbursed those expenses via local transfer request after 2 and half years. Refer to attachment 6 for details.
From the analysis carried out by audit, it was certain that Dr. Berlin had used the card for his personal use and that was the reason he reimbursed the amount when audit queried. The important point to note here is that the INTENTION of Dr Berlin was to abuse and defraud the University for his personnel gain/use even though the monetary value involved is immaterial in nature. Had the audit not carried out the investigation, Dr Berlin would not have reimbursed those expenses.
On 4th September, 2010, another transaction was carried out at the Tappoos Duty Free Shop at Nadi Airport totaling $169.85 by Dr. Berlin but no acquittal was provided to verify the expense. Similarly, the credit card was also used at Traps Restaurant in Suva on the 27th August, 2010 for an amount of $22.00 but no receipt or reasons for its usage was provided.
Dr. Berlin failed to maintain financial accountability on the use of the University’s Credit Card Facility.
The offence committed by Dr. Berlin is very serious in nature and is a clear abuse of powers and office. There is zero tolerance for the offence committed and urgent action needs to be taken as there may be more abuse but cannot be detected due to non -availability of acquittal reports.
Audit verified the Credit Card statements of Dean Rouse and noted that few transactions may not be work related. Tabulated below are few transactions made from the Credit Card for which acquittals are also not done:
The purpose for the transactions could not be obtained since acquittals are not provided. Expenses committed at Tappoo Duty Free Shop, Leiola Duty Free Shop and the Bad Dog Cafe gives a lot of suspicion that such transactions were committed for personal use. Refer to attachment 8 for the statements.
Other transactions from the statements were mostly for airline ticket, accommodation, catering and restaurant (local and foreign) and payment for conference venues.
The negligence and laxity on the parts of the Credit Card holder, Dean CMNHS, for not properly acquitting all the expenses is very serious in nature. There needs to be tight controls where Credit Card is in use to avoid unnecessary loss to the University.
The acquittals had been provided for only 1 month for both the credit cards while there were no acquittals for the other months of 2010. One confirmed misuse of the Credit Card by Dr. Berlin was determined through the acquittal provided and this has brought thoughts that there is other misuse which we cannot confirm without the acquittal. Serious action needs to be taken to bring this practice to halt to safeguard the University’s useful funds.
The payment from the credit cards was made without any considerations of the University regulations and therefore these spending were subject to abuse since there was no form of accountability.
The Credit Card holders, Dean CMNHS and Dr. Berlin, should be severely disciplined for not acquitting all the expenses incurred;
Ms. Jocelyn should be disciplined for not following up on the acquittals since 2010 and for providing misleading information to audit;
Proper acquittals should be done each month for each expense committed and checked by a responsible officer;
For those pending acquittals, a statutory declaration should be done to acquit the expenditure;
Abuse of credit cards for personnel use should be seriously dealt with.