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Sep 24, 2002

$200,000 fraud uncovered at K.H.M.H.

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Since it opened its doors in 1995 the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital has taken its share of criticisms, ranging from accusations of shoddy construction to substandard care…but the hit it’s taking this week hurts where the institution can least afford it: right in the pocketbook. Over the last month several hundred thousand dollars was illegally withdrawn from the hospital’s account and today News 5′s Jacqueline Woods joined the long list of people trying to find out the who, how and why.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Dr. Alvaro Rosado, Chief Executive Officer of the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, says he first became aware that there was a problem following a call from the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Dr. Alvaro Rosado, C.E.O., KHMH

“On Thursday morning, the nineteenth of September, the Bank of Nova Scotia called and informed me that our account was overdrawn. My response was that I did not think that was very likely but I’d look into the matter. I called the financial controller and inquired into the matter. She assured me that we were not overdrawn, we had enough funds to cover all the cheques that were written. I immediately dispatched the accountant to go to the bank to go through the documents they had there to see if there was a problem. The accountant worked all day going through the cheques that we had written to the bank. He worked through the morning and came back saying he did not find anything. He went back the afternoon and he found six cheques that had been forged with the signatures of a former accountant and myself. These six cheques amounted to a hundred and eighty-eight thousand, two hundred and sixty dollars.”

Since then, three more forged cheques in the amount of thirty thousand dollars have been recovered. All nine cheques amounting to two hundred and eighteen thousand dollars were cashed between August nineteenth and September sixth at the Nova Scotia Bank. The cheques bore the forged signatures of K.H.M.H. former accountant Joan Anderson Lord and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Alvaro Rosado. Dr. Rosado says the situation is very worrisome but the police, the hospital’s legal advisor and the bank are investigating the matter to see how such an incident could have happened and who is responsible.

Dr. Alvaro Rosado

“I cannot say what we could have done to prevent it. The cheques that we use are counter cheques, regular cheques, they are not K.H.M.H. cheques. And even they were, I would assume that given the sophistication of the forgery that took place, including the K.H.M.H. stamp, that somebody intent on defrauding the system would have been able to do this. The signatures are public knowledge, we issue a thousand cheques a month and each of there cheque would have a account number, they would have the signatures, the only thing that differentiate these cheques from our good cheques, would be the signature, which when you look at them, you realise they are forgeries, and these cheques were type written, whereas all of all our cheques are hand written.”

Jacqueline Woods

“Now these cheques have been made out to two companies, specifically, Bustich and Imperium. Has the K.H.M.H. done business with both these companies?”

Dr. Alvaro Rosado

“I have never heard of these companies before. None of them rings a bell to me at all. In fact, I can categorically state, no I have not ever signed any cheques to these companies.”

Dr. Rosado nor the police would comment on who they suspect may be involved. However, Rosado says he strongly believes that the prime suspect has to be intimate with the hospital’s accounting system and he believes that more than one person is involved.

Dr. Alvaro Rosado

“It would have to be. There are two companies that are registered with the banks. I understand that the two companies that the cheques were written to have accounts at Belizean banks, so it must have been more than one person, and if it’s a company, one would suspect that there are more than one signatories to that company.”

While the police have interviewed Dr. Rosado, authorities have been unable to contact the hospital’s former accountant. According to Dr. Rosado, Mrs. Lord was terminated from K.H.M.H. last month and he believes she is no longer in the country.

Dr. Alvaro Rosado

“Up to last Thursday I wouldn’t have suspected that anything like this could happen. I would suspect that there should be checks and balances, but at this point in time I prefer that we go through the investigations to really find out what happened.”

Jacqueline Woods reporting for News 5.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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