The United States Attorney announced that a Grand Jury indicted a former Chairperson of the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission and a contractor of the Commission with various Federal and local offenses, including theft from programs receiving Federal Government funds, wire fraud, and conversion of Government Funds. To see the United States Attorney’s Press Release and Indictment, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General successfully completed its external peer review as required by the Government Auditing Standards issued by the United States Government Accountability Office. To view the report, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General has issued the final report on the follow-up inspection on real property tax auctions. The objective of the inspection was to determine: (i) if Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials correctly paid property owners the net proceeds generated from sold properties, and (ii) if Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials deducted and accounted for the taxes and public sewer system user fees, penalties and costs as prescribed by the Title 33 Section 2547 (c) of the Virgin Islands Code.
We found that Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials incorrectly paid some property owners the net proceeds collected at real property tax auctions held territory-wide. The inaccurate payments were the direct result of Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials’ decision to include added expenses not previously included in the opening bids (cost) of the properties sold. Specifically,we found that officials: (a) increased the interest rates used to determine the property tax penalty; (b) added previously excluded penalties and costs from the opening bid price; (c) added unbilled property tax obligations that became payable after the auction occurred; (d) added other property tax obligations that remained unbilled on the date of redemption; and, (e) increased the administrative costs charged to the sold properties. Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials did not accurately account for the taxes and public sewer system fees collected from the sold properties. The officials did not ensure that the recording of taxes paid on the property tax records reconciled with the payments collected at the auctions. Forty-two of forty-nine net proceeds payments were either overpaid or underpaid. Specifically, officials made 5 overpayments totaling $19,484 and 37 underpayments totaling $91,048.
We also found that Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials did not deduct and place into the General Fund the taxes, penalties, and costs portions of the monies collected from sold properties. In addition, Lieutenant Governor’s Office officials waived uncollected property tax revenue by simply writing those taxes off the collection records.
All of the recommendations made in the report were resolved and implemented. To view the report, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General investigated the allegation that an employee of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) had prepared and issued several vehicle registrations without those vehicles having been inspected by an authorized Motor Vehicle Inspector, in violation of established rules and procedures. The investigation has confirmed that in fact the vehicles were registered without the proper inspection as required by the BMV rules and regulations. We also found that there was the unauthorized use of the inspector’s stamp for the purpose of not only the issuance of new registrations, but in the clearance of vehicles leaving the territory. As a result, we have concluded that the Office Manager: (i) violated the BMV’s operating procedures by processing the vehicle registrations without the proper inspections; (ii) manipulated the BMV’s computer system to show that the vehicles were properly inspected when they were not; and, (iii) by the repeated violations of the policies and procedures displayed a pattern of disregard to the BMV’s operating procedures. To view the report, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General released its Fiscal Year 2019 Audit Plan. Among the various audits planned for 2019, the V. I. Inspector General’s Office hopes to complete three projects still in progress during Fiscal Year 2018, to include: the Follow-up on Property Tax Auctions., the Audit of the Administrative Functions of the Board of Education, and the Audit of the Executive Branch’s Use of Credit Instruments. To view the 2019 Audit Plan, Click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General has issued the audit of the administrative functions of the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission (Casino Commission). The audit objective was to determine whether the Casino Commission effectively utilized its resources and carried out its administrative functions in accordance with established laws, rules and regulations, policies and procedures, and best practices for government agencies.
Our audit found that the Casino Commission was not effectively utilizing its resources to carry out its administrative functions in accordance with established laws, rules and regulations, policies and procedures and best practices. Specifically, the Casino Commission: (i) did not have formal procedures for authorizing, processing, recording, reviewing, and reconciling financial transactions; (ii) allowed members to incur $851,534 in credit card transactions and made $808,229 in payments to the credit card issuer without any formal review or approval process in place; (iii) allowed the Chairperson to process $1,062,860 in electronic fund transfers without another employee or Casino Commission member reviewing or authorizing the payments; (iv) allowed the Chairperson to process, $2,660,163 in check payments, reconcile bank statements and maintain sole custody of financial records; (v) did not submit required financial reports timely to the Department of Finance and the Virgin Islands Legislature; (vi) incurred operating expenditures totalling more than $3,772,803, of which, $1,315,635 was not supported with proper documentation; (vii) expended $680,172 in travel and travel-related expenses without having established formal travel policies and procedures; (viii) ignored the Government-wide travel policy while it did not implement a formal travel policy of its own; (ix) did not provide supporting documentation for $488,674 of travel and travel-related expenses; (x) did not implement internal procedures to ensure that travel expenses were properly controlled and accounted for; and, (xi) did not follow the procurement laws of the Government in obtaining professional services.
We attribute these conditions to the failure of the Casino Commission to: (i) develop internal policies and procedures; (ii) establish an internal control system to ensure, at a minimum, the separation of duties and adequate reviews; (iii) follow the requirements of the Code that requires the Casino Commission to submit financial reports and accompanying receipts to Finance and the Legislature; (iv) establish a system of checks and balances by the Casino Commission members, rather than allowing the Chairperson to assume sole responsibility for processing payments and maintaining supporting documents; (v) follow the Government-wide travel regulations; (vi) require supporting documentation to justify travel expenses; and, (vii) adhere to the procurement policies of the Government, or to implement policies and procedures of its own.
As a result: (i) in accordance with professional standards, whereas the Casino Commission’s oversight body and/or management should have developed internal controls, one person performed all critical financial management functions without input from the other Casino Commission members; (ii) numerous expenses are questionable due to the lack of documentation needed to verify the legitimacy of the expenses relative to the daily operations of the Casino Commission; (iii) numerous travel and travel-related expenses did not conform to the Government-wide travel policy; (iv) many of the travel and travel-related expenses were unsupported and are considered questionable in terms of their relation to the daily operations of the Casino Commission; and (v) professional services were obtained and contracts were executed by the Casino Commission that did not conform to the Government procurement policies or other best practices guidelines.
We made several recommendations to address the conditions and causes cited in the report. Our recommendations addressed the following areas: (i) internal controls; (ii) operating expenses; (iii) travel expenses; and, (iv) contracting. To view the report, click here.
The United States Attorney announced that a Federal jury has convicted a former Virgin Islands senator of two counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of federal program funds from the Virgin Islands Legislature. To see the United States Attorney’s Press Release, click here.
Virgin Islands Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt presented to the Committee on Finance the proposed Fiscal Year 2019 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 $2.468 million, which is almost 10% more than the level provided in Fiscal Year 2018. The proposed 2019 Budget includes the hiring of six additional auditors. To see the Virgin Islands Inspector General’s Testimony, click here.
The Office of the Virgin Islands Inspector General investigated an allegation that a generator located at the Ivannna Eudora Kean High School was moved to the home of the Commissioner of Education. The investigation has confirmed that in fact the generator was moved to the Commissioner’s home shortly after the passage of Hurricane Irma. It has since been relocated to a storage area at the Adelita Canryn Junior High School. The Commissioner stated it was moved for security reasons and that her home was used at times as a base of operations and thus felt that her utilization of the generator was justified. We have concluded that: (i) the generator should not have been moved to the Commissioner’s home, and more importantly it should not have been connected; (ii) the administration of Ivanna Eurdora Kean High School should have been notified of the move; and, (iii) it probably could have been used in some other capacity for the Department of Education or the Government. To view the report, click here.
The VI Inspector submitted, to the Governor of the Virgin Islands, a status report on the operations of the VI Inspector General’s Office after the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. To see a copy of the report, click here.