Top officials silent amid alleged misappropriation

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By Robert A. Emmanuel

Education officials have declined to comment on the alleged misappropriation of money from a fund at the Antigua State College (ASC).

Yesterday, ASC Principal Hyram Ford declined to comment on recent news reports that the government’s Department of Audit was unable to account for at least $73,000 from the college’s Student Improvement Fund.

Efforts to contact Education Minister Michael Browne for comment on the matter have been unsuccessful so far.

According to reports, the alleged misappropriation came to light after the officials from the Audit Department notified Rosa Greenaway, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, that in their efforts to review the 2018 financial accounts for the ASC’s Student Improvement Fund, they had been unable obtain records for specific periods.

This, despite repeatedly requesting specific information from the ASC officials that would assist in auditing the fund.

However, bank statements from First Caribbean International Bank showed that, during March and April 2018, money had been withdrawn multiple times in a single day from the Student Improvement Fund, in both large and lesser amounts, on the behalf of “ANTACHIN”.

During March 2018, there were 44 transactions by ANTACHIN – at least $45,000 in total – and 25 transactions in April 2018 for more than $28,000.

The total amount of withdrawals to this entity was more than $73,000. Other frequent withdrawals were from accounts with no names that only showed the cheque numbers.

Further reports indicated that Ford was removed from the roster of signatories to the Fund, with the only other removal being that of Gordon George, the former head of the Advanced Level Department, who is retired.

The current signatories to the student improvement fund are Jacintha Meade and Denise Gardner, who were the other two signatories along with Ford and George, plus Rosa Greenaway and Sharon Anthony, who were both recently installed.

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