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Apr 27, 2015

Are There More Arrests to Come in Treasury Hustle?

David Enriquez

Late last week, Treasury Department Second Class Clerk David Enriquez was arrested and charged for three counts of theft. Authorities believe that he diverted half a million dollars into private accounts. It’s a startling bold hustle, and one we found out today was done with the greatest of ease. In fact, Enriquez had already gotten away with hundreds of thousands which likely would never have been discovered. So how does government get so easily fleeced? Today we went looking for answers, and Financial Secretary Joseph Waight was prepared to provide them. He told News Five that the investigation is still in its early days, and the arrest of Enriquez may not be the last.

 

Joseph Waight

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“There’s enough evidence that was with the Police to make an initial request. Whether that is the beginning and end of it I am not sure. But the way the process works is this. Payments are made continuously by the government from all departments…processed by the Treasury…there’s a first approver, second approver – sometimes depending on the size a third approver. These payments are then bunched morning and again in the afternoon. Two transfers are made daily to a commercial bank. In this case I think it was the Belize Bank. The process is that once the approvals have gone through, there is prepared a list of payments for the morning, and a list of payments for the afternoon. That list has the beneficiary’s name, account number, money to be paid and reason why. Once the list is prepared it is copied and sent over to the commercial bank. My understanding is that at this stage the person accused entered the system, took out what was a valid bank account number, and put in his own or that of his friend. It went through and apparently knowing once it reaches the bank there’s not a cross-check between the number and the name – in fact if the number is valid then it goes through. So the allegation is that the gentleman found a weakness in the system, started to manipulate the accounts and then substituted what would have been the real beneficiaries – substituted another bank account and the bank account went through. We have received cooperation from the commercial bank and in fact when they did it a second time it was flagged because indeed large transfers to small accounts does pop a flag, but these two slipped through, these two slipped through. I think it was picked up later in the day when an officer in the bank saw a big payment go through and called the treasury, but initially something went through.”

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