“Lack of control over money a worry”

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 14 November 2018, 12:00AM

The lack of control over the collection and receipting of monies at the Immigration Office has come under the scrutiny of the Audit Office.

The financial irregularities were highlighted in an audit report on the Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet for the financial year 2012-2013.

The duplication of receipt numbers on two financial systems, which the Ministry used, was a concern highlighted in the audit.

The non-integration of the two systems, according to the audit, made it difficult for the duplication to be noticed and where possible addressed.

Despite the use of duplicate receipt numbers to make payments into the two systems, it was still expected that both payments would be recorded. However, in many cases one or both payments could not be verified. 

“The issue with the duplicated receipt numbers and unaccounted monies being receipted is part of the investigation by the National Prosecution Office (now Attorney General’s Office) based on a special audit report and the investigation is still on-going. 

“The N.P.O., upon its assessment of evidence complied, has filed charges against one former immigration officer, who was involved in the process. The Ministry continues to work closely with N.P.O., Ministry of Police, Audit Office and the Ministry of Finance regarding this special audit report investigation,” stated the audit. 

The Ministry, in response to the concerns raised, said that the receipts marked cancelled and banked were already on the two systems. 

The audit also noticed weaknesses within existing internal control receipting procedures. While many activities were heavily segregated—the amounts being manually receipted for services rendered—were at most times not verified to the source documents, such as the manual receipt itself. 

Examples of the inappropriate use of cancelled receipts included payment for an adult passport which was receipted at $100—which is the cost of child’s passport. There was another payment of $200 for the processing of an adult passport, though only $100 was recorded in the system. 

The audit also noted that there was no evidence of debt collection follow-ups, especially those with debts going back 3-5 years. There were also no manual records of accounts receivable, with the only existing record held on Finance One. 

The Ministry of Prime Minister and Cabinet gave an undertaking back then that it would identify and clear all outstanding.

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu 14 November 2018, 12:00AM

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