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Aug 31, 2018

Culture Minister Confirms NICH President’s Administrative Leave

Sapna Budhrani

Embroiled in controversy, President of the National Institute of Culture and History Sapna Budhrani dominated the news this week. Budhrani was put on the hot seat after leaked audit documents revealed a number of irregularities and mismanagement at NICH. The leaked documents showed correspondences between financial officer Edwin Alvarado and internal auditor Roberto Matus. The correspondences addressed fuel consumption, vehicle usage, and finances. After Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, reports surfaced that Budhrani had been suspended. On Thursday, backed up by the NICH Board of Directors, Budhrani broke her silence, saying the media and Cabinet may have been misled by what was leaked. Today, Minister Patrick Faber told the media that Budhrani’s suspension is being worked on.  Faber also shared that outside auditors of Baker Tilly Hulse have been hired to review Matus’ audit report.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Culture

“Firstly we have to try to ensure that we engage an auditor. We have not done so. In fact, Baker Tilly Hulse as you may have seen Mr. Hulse at the press conference; they are the auditing firm that does the external audit for NICH on the regular. So they are looking at the last financial year and I had a conversation engaging Baker Tilly Hulse so that they will do a one week look at the internal auditor report just to validate or not validate that report.”

 

Reporter

“So you take over the cabinet tomorrow or the government, the executive because the Prime Minister is going for his treatment. Will you then still go ahead…”

 

Patrick Faber

 

“No. I am telling you that we have no intentions of doing contrary to that. That is the end of it.”

 

Reporter

“So when does the administrative leave take effect?”

 

Patrick Faber

“Next week Monday.”

 

Reporter

“So is it your opinion as it is of many that the NICH board acted in open defiance?”

 

Patrick Faber

“None at all. The board has all rights to do what it did. Let me explain that in fact the decision from Cabinet came not to throw any stones or cast any aspersions on Ms Budhrani. In fact the reason why the Cabinet said what it said was because we wanted to make absolutely sure, since it is there the media several other entities that there is something, well there is nothing to hide. Let’s get it out there. Let’s get it out of the way.”

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