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Dec 6, 2017

Audit Hunting Clues to 71 Million Dollar Land Compensation Scheme

Dorothy Bradley

One year after they began, the Senate Special Select Committee’s public hearings are now over. Auditor General Dorothy Bradley was the last to appear in Belmopan before the Committee this afternoon, as she was the first twelve months ago. We will have more from her testimony later on, but we lead tonight with a significant update on another government scandal. In 2016, in the wake of the resignation of Gaspar Vega as Minister of Natural Resources, it was reported that as much as seventy-one million dollars was paid out over eight years for questionable compensation for the acquisition of land across the country. Vega’s immediate successor Godwin Hulse, who is also Minister of Immigration, put a stop to the program and initiated an internal investigation, which also included a request for auditing from the Audit Institution. Subsequently then-Attorney General and Minister Vanessa Retreage instituted separate civil proceedings against Andre Vega and Sharon Pitts for eight hundred thousand dollars in compensation collected for the acquisition of five-plus acres of land near the Haulover Bridge. Further details have emerged of a systematic scheme to swap lands obtained by persons with close ties to the Vega family for financial consideration. But today Bradley told reporters that her investigators have not yet uncovered the crucial evidence they need for the report, which will focus on the last four years before Vega’s removal as opposed to the full terms of the Dean Barrow administration.

 

Dorothy Bradley, Auditor General

“It is a matter of public interest, but I need to be honest: with this process, we have learned a lot, and so an Audit report will not be out there if we don’t have all the evidence we need, and we have not gathered what we needed over the whole scope, and so we are working on that.”

 

Reporter

“Is there any sort of timeline as to when your office may be completing its work? How far along are you depending on the information you have gotten so far?”

 

Dorothy Bradley

“I would not be able to say at this point, definitively, because the officer who is assigned was instructed to go back to get additional information and so he is in that process.”

 

Aaron Humes

“But would you be able to say how long the audit covers? Does it go back to a specific year, time?”

 

Dorothy Bradley

“It goes back, I think, four years; I’m not sure, I can’t remember that part. But we just need to wait and see what kind of information we have, and not until we have that information can we put anything forward.”

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