Hundreds of Thousands Embezzled From Southern Regional Hospital, Administrator Suspended

Just last night we aired an update into the ongoing audit of the Southern Regional Hospital – where there have been rumours of substantial misappropriation of public funds. But, after the CEO Peter Allen spoke to us in the morning, later that evening when he was heading up to Belmopan he got a call from the Auditor General’s Department. They had made dramatic and disturbing findings. This afternoon via telephone from Belmopan CEO Allen told us what they told him:..

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO – Ministry of Health
“What they found was 3 cheques totaling $7,060 which were drawn from the hospital account which manages funds for NHI deliveries of babies at the hospital. They found 3 cheques totaling $7,060 w which was made out to cash or to the administrator Nasley Sommerville. What is more distressing is that they cannot account for 189 cheques.”

“With 3 cheques totaling $7,060 – 189 cheques of course may amount to very significant sums of money and it appears that somebody was running a separate checking system, so that there were multiple cheque books. This may well amount to very significant sums of money. You had mentioned figures in the hundreds of thousands and I think that may well turn out to be true.”

“The preliminary report and copies of the 3 cheques totaling $7,000 have been forwarded to the Ministry of Public Service and to the Public Service Commission, recommending suspension of Ms. Sommerville from that office.”

“I also contacted the officer commanding the Dangriga division and Superintendent Joseph and I have sent him a copy of the preliminary report with a request for police and to consider intervening immediately.”

“Clearly we have a lot of searching to do because of clearly loopholes we had not been aware of and that have allowed something like this to happen.”

“My main emphasis now is to first of all make sure that we stop it and that it can’t happen anymore and secondly, that we do our best to recover what has been lost.”

Jules Vasquez
“Why is it that no internal checks or audits or regular periodic audit or reviews found it out?”

Dr. Peter Allen, CEO – Ministry of Health
“That of course is my first question and I wish I had a better answer for you. We have received the excel file from the Southern Regional Hospital which appeared to indicate that all was well. It certainly points to weaknesses in our system. This is a terrible thing but it wasn’t something that the ministry wanted to happen. It is something that we have to deal with as swiftly and as strictly as we possibly can.”

The officer commanding in Dangriga told us that their internet is down and they haven’t received the file form CEO Allen.

The graft is believed to have happened over a period of two years – which, again, indicates, a serious lack of oversight.

Sommerville has told the auditors that she does not recall cashing any cheques but she would prefer to speak with her attorney before continuing discussions with the auditors. Allen has ordered the bank to close the account and asked NHI not to make any further deposits to that account.

Source: 7News

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