UPDATE: NSWMA raises 'red flag' over disbursement of more than $30m in cheques; MOCA called in to probeTuesday, November 30, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Board members of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) have disclosed that the irregularities at the state entity involve the disbursement of over $30 million in cheques from one of its regional subsidiaries.
An audit exercise — which spanned three months, ending in March 2020 — "uncovered very glaring concerns", which NSWMA's board and management thought rose to the level of the need for a criminal investigation at its subsidiary, Metropolitan Parks and Market (MPM) Waste Management Limited.
MPM is the region covering Kingston, St Andrew, St Catherine and St Thomas.
"The audit committee was dissatisfied as to the way cheques were disbursed, how the cheques were encashed, and those sort of things," said Norman Brown, chairman of that sub-committee of the NSWMA.
He told a press conference on Monday that, "preliminarily, we're looking at somewhere... about [over] $30 million.
"The process for the disbursement of these funds is what is in question as to whether the agency got value for money. That's the major concern that we have and that's what is being investigated," he explained.
The Major Organised and Anti-Corruption Agency (MOCA) has already been called in to probe the irregularities, according to NSWMA's Board Chairman, Dennis Chung.
Additionally, Auditor General Pamela Munroe Ellis is also carrying out a separate audit at the entity.
"Being proactive... we have referred this to MOCA who have already started their investigations and this we hope to deal with before it becomes a major situation," he stated.
"We also have the auditor general in the agency and we look forward to that report also, because we know that it will help us to improve the operations," said Chung.
"We are going to ensure as an organisation that where ever corruption raises its head, we are going to be on it, and we have had a very active audit sub-committee led by our chairman Norman Brown," he further stated.
Meanwhile, NSWMA's executive director, Audley Gordon, shied away from disclosing whether the "glaring concerns" discovered by the audit led to employees being separated from the government-run solid waste company.
"I'm very careful not to link separation to the ongoing investigation," he said cautiously, noting that any disclosure of such could lead to the probe being compromised.