Credit cards were scrutinised

| 04/08/2014

(CNS): The former auditor general, Dan Duguay, has said that, regardless of the specific policies that were in place over the use of government credit cards at the time when he headed up the public finance watchdog, their use was always scrutinised. In the wake of media headlines recently regarding the use of the cards as well as the opposition leader’s comments on a recent CNS article, Duguay said many audits were conducted into the use of cards when he was at the helm resulting in the now infamous report of "Gasboygate" as well as the arrest and recent charge of Hassan Syed, the former UCCI president. Duguay said the Office of the Auditor General always paid close attention to card use during government audits as they are obvious potential areas of waste as well as dishonesty.

"Expenditures on government credit cards were always reviewed as part of the audit of expenditures. These are high risk expenditures due to their very nature and therefore are always of special interest to all auditors," he told CNS this week. "My office always considered personal expenditures on government credit cards as inappropriate and reported instances when we found them."

Describing the recent arguments about what policies existed in relation to personal use as a complete ‘red herring', Duguay said, "Using a government card for personal use is wrong and politicians shouldn’t need a ‘policy’ to tell them that. It is a matter of ethics and integrity.

"We did find examples where government credit cards were used for personal expenditures and we always commented on such use," he insisted.

Duguay explained that where civil servants paid back the sums taken for personal use immediately the improper behaviour was noted in the management letter on the audits but that was the end of the matter. However, if repayment had not been made or if it was only made after it became apparent that the audit had revealed the inappropriate or possibly illegal activity, then it was always reported to the Financial Crimes Unit of the RCIPS, Duguay said.

"If a public servant doesn't repay personal expenditures on a government card or only repays when it becomes apparent that they have been caught, it should be investigated … by the appropriate authorities. All use of government credit cards for personal use is wrong. It should never be done," he said.

Duguay said civil servants and public sector workers were well aware of that, as he pointed out that they were always told during audits.

The use or misuse of government credit cards has featured heavily in the local news headlines ever since the notorious misuse of the fuel cards given to government workers was exposed by Duguay in 'Gasboygate' right through to the shocking revelationsin OAG's latest report about government travel expenses.

The current auditor general, Alastair Swarbrick, found that government workers and ministers simply in many cases simply did not supply any receipts or justification for credit card spending. He said that chief offices were completely negligent supervising the use of credit cards in relation to what policies did exist, which he described as a "fundamental failure".

Although the policies regarding the personal use and pay-back of expenditure on a government credit card was ambiguous until 2010, it was clear that credit cards should not be used for buying booze or anything unrelated to the job or not properly justified and accounted for. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Of all the things we know Big Mac has done, I am still shocked that credit card is the best they can do. Based on this report there is no criminal case.

    Where is the investigation for the Cohen deal? The turtle farm? NBF? or Stan Thomas? Credit cards? credit cards? Th DPP really have nothig better to do. This will be another waste of time that will be followed by a big fat lawsuit. Big Mac will definitely have the last laugh.

    Who are the other civil servants? Are they going to be prosecuted too?

    Look at the Syed case.They brougt this sick man back so we can pay his medical bills.The joke and the costs will be on us again.

    God help us all