Finance Minister Dr Keith Mitchell is concerned about the action of a former Cabinet Minister in the Tillman Thomas administration who ordered the Accountant General to write a cheque in the name of his child who was afforded a government scholarship to study at a university in Canada.
“No person has ever gotten a scholarship cheque in their name. It is the normal practice that students on Government scholarships get a cheque written in the name of the university there are attending,” Dr Mitchell recently told the Parliament.
Cabinet documents, according to the Finance Minister shows that the son of a former senior government minister received a four-year scholarship valued at almost EC$300,000 and there is no clear indication that the money was indeed paid to the university.
“In the first year a total sum of EC$68,000 was provided in cheque to the student. Then, this was followed by a payment of EC$72,000 per year for the next three years,” he informed the House when pressed for details by member Tobias Clement.
Though not providing the name of the University which the student attended nor the course of study which was pursued by the young man, Dr Mitchell described the act of writing a cheque in the name of student as “careless” and “a total disregard for rules.”
Stopping short of confirming that an investigation is being undertaken into the matter, Dr Mitchell told the House that since coming into office in February a number of other unusual and questionable financial and other actions of the former National Democratic Congress administration which was led by Tillman Thomas was identified by senior staff at some government ministries.
Because this is a financial matter, if an investigation is to be done it must be done by and or in partnership with the Financial Intelligence Unit. With a mission to prevent and detect money laundering, terrorist financing and other serious financial crimes through collaboration with local, regional and international stakeholders, the Unit has received 360 suspicious transaction reports from various financial institutions.