Details emerging from an audit of the state-run John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFKMC), has revealed the operation of 19 undisclosed accounts with millions of bank balances far exceeding its net income and undocumented spending.
The report which is currently before the Joint Legislative Committee states that “During the audit, it was observed that the JFKMC ended its operations with a net income of US$875,153.00 as per its financial report whereas the total bank statements balances at June 30,2015 amounted to US$2,259,459.27 and L$436,008,490.42. Additionally, the end of year bank reconciliation statement did not explain the differences observed,”
The Chairman on Public Accounts and Auditing Sen. Henry Yallah on a radio talk show on Wednesday March 28, that the principal actors behind the very troubling situation at JFKMC have all left the country except for the Human Resource person who could not see payroll.
Sen. Yallah said the Committee has been able to grab of the three persons alleged to be involve in scandal, that is the head of Planning and Development whom the Senator did not name.
According to him, it appears that the institution was just being operated by three persons, inclusive of the CEO Dr. Wannie Scott – McDonald, her deputy and the Planning and Development person.
The Human Resource person, financial officer and comptroller were allegedly sidelined completely and as such, they allegedly appeared not to be in the know as to how people got employed at JFKMC or paid salaries.
Sen. Yallahsaid Madam McDonal and the two other officials allegedly ran the state referral hospital in a manner that saw a planning and program officer to be a signatory to financial documents while the financial officer is not signatory to JFK accounts.
He said the accused officials ran 19 accounts, 14 of which are allegedly between CEO McDonald and her deputy, while the planning and development person supervised five of those accounts.
“Now, when they’re ready, each of them just take what they want to take,” he alleges, and adds that the CEO was the one carrying out the employment and not the HR.
A portion of the Audit Report alleges that the documentation provided by the JFKMC Management could only support US$84,355.00 and L$4,087,437.98 respectively; thereby leaving the amounts of US$760,356.56 and L$36,020,653.80 expended without adequate documentation to be accounted for by Management.
It accuses the JFKMC Management of being in breach of financial discipline in line with Regulation A.20 of the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2009.
During the audit, it was observed that the JFKMC ended its operations with a net income of US$875,153.00 as per its financial report whereas the total bank statements balances at June 30,2015 amounted to US$2,259,459.27 and L$436,008,490.42.
Additionally, the end of year bank reconciliation statement did not explain the differences observed, the report adds. The report lists undisclosed accounts at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), International Bank (IB), Ecobank, and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).
The report alarms that the risk involved is that unreported closing bank balances could be misapplied or misappropriated, and have therefore recommended that the Management of JFKMC provide justification for not disclosing the closing bank balances.
During the audit, it was observed that the Management of JFKMC allegedly made several transfers from one account of the entity to another without adequate supporting documentation to back said transfers.
It was further observed that the Chief Financial Officer, Serina Gbaba was absent from job for one year (June 2014 to June 2015) without evidence of an approval by the JFKMC Management even though she was paid salary that amounted to US$41,280.00 and L$1,388,910.00.
Auditor General Yusador Gaye’s position is that in the absence of response by the JFKMC Management, the salary payment of US$41,280.00 and L$1,388,910.00 to the Chief Financial Officer, Sarina Gbaba should be refunded to the JFKMC.
The report says the Management is in breach of financial discipline in line with Regulation A.20 of PFM Act of 2009.
“Also, Section 8.2.5 (C – D) of the JFKMC Human Resource Manual of 2015 states that “ (C) Any employee absent fourteen or more consecutive schedule work days without notifying his or her supervisor will be considered to have abandoned his or her job and will be terminated,” the report says.
The Management in a response to the auditors said they acknowledged their recommendation and stated that they operated for a specific period and therefore they account for amount received and the amount expended during the specified period in which receipts and payments were made.
Going forward, they said they would ensure that the beginning and ending bank balances are adequately disclosed.
But the Management further clarified that all payments made for professional service, drugs and medical supplies, fuel, travels, petty cash and various goods, works and services were supported by the appropriate documentation.
Meanwhile, Sen. Yallah says a mobile corruption court is needed to fast track corruption cases, given that the courts here have too many cases to deal with.
The Senator’s concern is that the corruption cases that are placed on shelves for a long time may not be tried due to a statute of limitation in the law that gives time to hear such cases.
He says a committee has already been setup to draft documents leading to the establishment of the corruption court, and it would report after the Easter Break.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah