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Apr 14, 2016

An Audit of the B.D.F.’s Account; How are Military Finances Being Spent?

Why is the Belize Defense Force the subject of an intensive investigation commissioned by the Ministry of National Security? And why is the Ministry of Finance, the Accountant General and the Auditor-General involved in that investigation? Why have all transactions from the B.D.F. Account Fund been put on immediate hold, and why has Commander Brigadier-General David Jones been given two weeks to provide answers to some very pressing financial queries? Tonight we’ll provide you with as much information as we can, based on two internal audits leaked to us from the Ministry of National Security and a late evening comment by General Jones. Mike Rudon has been putting it all together and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Retired Colonel George Lovell, C.E.O. in the Ministry of National Security, has confirmed that it is he who sent in teams from the Ministry of National Security and the Police to conduct audits of the Belize Defence Force, based on allegations that reached his desk.

 

Tonight we start with the most recent document in our possession, a memo from Lovell to Brigadier-General David Jones dated March sixth, 2016. Lovell, in that memo, gives Jones two weeks to explain discrepancies found in two separate audits. The memo goes on to state that “as it relates to the B.D.F. account all transactions from this account are to be put on hold and a team from the Ministry will go in and do a proper auditing of this account.”

 

Jones is requested to have the following documents available as it regards the B.D.F. Account – bank statements for the past two years; copy of any supporting documents for the issuing of checks; check stubs and returned processed checks from the bank.

 

David Jones

So what’s the B.D.F. Account? It’s called the non-public fund, and like accounts in other department it should be administered by a Finance Officer and what is called an F4. But an audit conducted in January finds discrepancies in that fund, namely – withdrawals done without proper documentation, no ledger to state the balance of the account and checks issued but not recorded on the stub of the checkbook. Based on those findings, the four member audit team recommended that all transactions for that account be put on hold immediately, and that the audit department do an in-depth audit of the fund.

 

The audit team also references an earlier interim internal audit in 2014 which yielded similar findings where the B.D.F. Account is concerned. At the time of that audit in October 2014, the account held close to one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars. But the team pointed to serious discrepancies – one, they could not establish the authority or conditions given for the operation of the account. Two, checks were issued with no record of who received payment; three, check stubs had no particulars and the purpose of payment could not be established; four, no ledger recording deposits or withdrawals and no document showing authorization for payment.

 

George Lovell

And five, this is where General Jones comes in. The team states that, “there is a credit card against this account in the name of General David Jones. A review of the statements showed where funds have been debited from the account for credit card transactions but there is no receipt, no documentation or evidence of what is being paid for and where the items are.”

 

As the Commander of the B.D.F., General David Jones is the person who must provide an explanation to the Ministry of National Security for all these discrepancies. He had until March eighteenth to do so. Today Colonel Lovell confirmed that he has received some response, but could not go into specifics.

 

He did tell us that the Ministry is treating the matter with all seriousness, and what is happening within the B.D.F., whether misappropriation at some level or just total neglect of basic accounting practices, will not be condoned.

 

We have confirmed that there are other audits which should be operational soon, conducted by the Auditor General’s department.

 

Late this evening we received a call from General David Jones, in which he clarifies that there were no audits of that account since the Ministry has no control over it. According to Jones, that on-public account is one which has been passed down from Commander to Commander, and it cannot be audited by the Ministry. Finally, Jones claims that he has all the records for that account, but just didn’t hand it over. Shortly after that conversation we spoke to National Security C.E.O. Colonel George Lovell, who in turn clarified that all B.D.F. accounts are under the control of the Ministry of National Security, and an account cannot even be opened without authorization of the Ministry of Finance. In closing, Lovell reiterated that he has ordered that all transactions for that account be put on hold.

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1 Response for “An Audit of the B.D.F.’s Account; How are Military Finances Being Spent?”

  1. true soldier says:

    so embarrassing to see a general trying to hide corruption at this level

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