The United States Attorney announced that a Grand Jury indicted a former Virgin Islands senator with wire fraud and embezzlement of funds from the Virgin Islands Legislature. The former senator was arrested in Italy on June 29, 2016 and extradited to the Virgin Islands in late August 2016. To see the United States Attorney’s Press Release and Indictment, click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt presented to the Committee on Finance the proposed Fiscal Year 2017 Budget for the operations of the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General. V. I. Inspector General van Beverhoudt is proposing a funding level of $2.1 million, which is slightly higher than the level provided in Fiscal Year 2016. To see the Virgin Islands Inspector General’s Testimony, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General has issued the inspection report of the Alternative Investment Program administered by the Government Employees Retirement System (GERS). We found that the Alternative Investment Program as administered by GERS is not meeting the intended purpose of safely increasing the return on investments. Specifically, (i) viatical senior and/or life settlements (viatical) and some real estate investments considered by the industry as alternative investments are not included in the alternative investments section of the Code; (ii) GERS’ current non-traditional investments limit is higher than the industry standards; (iii) in the 2005 revisions to the Code, there are two sections dealing with alternative investments and one section dealing with viatical; (iv) a 2015 revision to the Code added five additional categories of alternative investments; (v) GERS entered into loan agreements that were not authorized under the Alternative Investment Program or any other authority as defined by the Code; (vi) the interest rate charged for four of the loans was below the rate charged to GERS members and the industry desired investment rate of return; (vii) GERS entered into an extremely risky and questionable viatical investment; (viii) GERS also granted a $10 million line of credit to the same Partnership that is handling the viatical investment; (ix) GERS entered into numerous agreements and investments without performing the necessary due diligence evaluation to ensure limited risk and a reasonable rate of return on the funds used; (x) GERS did not conduct efficient monitoring and oversight activities of investments under the Alternative Investment Program to protect GERS’ interest; and, (xi) GERS did not establish any procedures, policies, or benchmarks to ensure that funds were being utilized for the requested purpose of the investments. To view the report, click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt testified before the Virgin Islands Legislature’s Committee on Homeland Security, Justice and Public Safety on Bill 31-0042, an act to create the Virgin Islands Professional Standards Bureau. Although the VI Inspector General agreed with the concept of the proposal, there were concerns on the structure, functions and responsibilities of the proposed entity. To view the V I Inspector General’s Comments, click here.
The Virgin Islands Inspector General’s Office welcomed four new employees to the organization. On St. Thomas, Alicia Bastien, Auditor and Sheniqua Lake, Auditor joined the St. Thomas office. On St. Croix, Sylene Joseph, Auditor and Ramon Castillo, Audit Coordinating Officer joined the St. Croix office.
VI Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt served as the key-note speaker at the January 29, 2016, St. Thomas-St. John Police Academy Graduation Ceremony held at the VI National Guard Armory on St. Thomas. Inspector General van Beverhoudt stressed the importance of integrity and honesty to the new recruits. Click here to view the speech.
The Virgin Islands Attorney General filed a twenty-five count Information charging two Government employees and two businessmen with various violations of Virgin Islands laws based on their participation in a real property tax auction scheme to acquire property below the highest bid price. The Information was based on an Affidavit filed by the Virgin Islands Inspector General’s Office. To see the Information and Affidavit, click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt testified before the Virgin Islands Legislature’s Committee on Government Services, Consumer and Veterans Affairs for a second time on Bill 31-0014, a proposal to give the Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General additional independence in meeting its statutory mandate of providing oversight on the operations of the Government of the Virgin Islands. Bill 31-0014 was approved by the Committee and forwarded to the full body for consideration. To view the V I Inspector General’s Comments, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General released its Fiscal Year 2016 Audit Plan. Among the various audits planned for 2016, the V. I. Inspector General’s Office hopes to complete six projects still in progress during Fiscal Year 2015, to include: the Inspection of the Alternative Investment Program of the Government Employees Retirement System, the Audit of the Controls over the Department of Education’s School Lunch Program, the Inspection of Contract for Claim of Environmental Damages to St, Croix’s South Shore, the Follow-up on the Handling of Funds Received During the Property Tax Auctions, the Audit of the Public Finance Authority (Joint Project OVIIG/OIG-DOI) and the Audit of the Child Nutrition Programs Claims and Reimbursement Controls. In addition three other projects should be started during the 2016 Fiscal Year to include: the Audit of the Administrative Functions of the Casino Control Commission, the Audit of the Administrative Functions of the Government Employees Retirement System and the Audit of Government-wide Travel. To view the 2016 Audit Plan, Click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt testified before the Virgin Islands Legislature’s Committee on Rules on Bill 31-0150, a proposal to require the forfeiture of retirement benefits for elected and appointed officials upon the conviction of specific felonies. Except for two concerns with the bill as worded, Mr. van Beverhoudt supported the intent of the proposal. To see the Virgin Islands Inspector General’s testimony and Bill 31-0150, click here.