$63,000 misappropriated from Argyle Airport Project
February 10, 2012
$63,000 misappropriated from Argyle Airport Project

The International Airport Development Company (IADC), the company charged with the construction of this country’s biggest ever capital project, has been defrauded of $63,744 by two of its employees.{{more}}

At a press conference yesterday at the Port Authority Conference Room, IADC Communications Officer Jennifer Richardson-Herbert said that police are carrying out investigations after it was discovered that two junior employees at the IADC “conspired to defraud the company of funds, through the issuance of false invoices, for which payment in cheque was issued by the IADC.”

“Investigations carried out by our Accounts Department revealed that a purchasing clerk and a store room clerk colluded, possibly with the help of other persons outside the company, to bill the IADC for larger quantities of food items than were actually received by the company. Apparently, all the parties to this collaborative fraudulent scheme shared the ill-gotten proceeds amongst themselves,” Richardson-Herbert said.

“Our investigations also revealed that this collusion among our junior staff members, cost the Company $63,744.00. It is important to note that this fraud was committed through the issuing of fraudulent invoices to the Company. No cash was stolen, as we keep only small amounts of petty cash at the IADC, for small daily transactions.”

The Communications Officer said that about a week ago, a meeting was called with the two persons involved. She said one of them admitted to the charges and testified to having colluded with the other staff member.

The staff member who admitted to the wrong doing subsequently tendered his resignation, while the service of the other was terminated, based on the evidence available to them, Richardson-Herbert said.

Revealing that the situation has caused her “anguish and sadness”, Richardson-Herbert said two employees who should have been part of the process of safeguarding the company’s assets and should have been looking out for the interest of the company, instead colluded to bypass controls to defraud the company.

She described the situation as an isolated case, but said the Company has taken full responsibility for what happened.

“We are currently reviewing our controls to identify changes that can be made to forge a more effective system to deter fraud, while maintaining the efficiency of our operations,” Richardson-Herbert stated.

Richardson-Herbert acknowledged the generosity of donors and the efforts of Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in securing funds for the project.

“When you contribute to the project and when our dear Prime Minister, Hon. Ralph Gonsalves works as hard as he does to find monies for the project, everyone must feel assured that the monies entrusted to us are in good hands and are being used for the purpose for which the funds are intended.”

She assured the public that the “overwhelming majority” of the staff at the IADC are “good and hardworking people whose main goal is to see the completion of our International Airport for the development of our beautiful country.”

Describing the two employees as “bad apples”, Richardson-Herbert pleaded with the public to continue to support the IADC.

“Please remain confident that the construction of your international airport is in good hands,” she said.

The international airport at Argyle is being constructed at a cost of EC$652 million and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.