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EZ Shipping, CSC audits should be public before HOA dissolves

EZ Shipping, CSC audits should be public before HOA dissolves

Governor John Rankin has indicated that the government has until the end of the current session of the House of Assembly (HOA) to make some critical audit reports public.
Audit reports in relation to contracts between the former Andrew Fahie-led government and Claude Skelton Cline as well as those with EZ Shipping were completed sometime in December and handed to the governor for review.

But these audit reports are yet to be made public some two months after their completion.

When questioned recently about when the public should be able to access these reports, Governor Rankin said: “As regards the reports which have been received from the Auditor General under the Audit Act 2003, they need to be laid in the House of Assembly within three months of their receipt.”

He added: “They were mainly received at the very end of December and therefore my full expectation is that they will be laid in the House of Assembly and made public before parliament is dissolved in advance of the general election.”

Thus far, the audit report on Skelton Cline’s contracts was the only one added to the Order Paper for the HOA’s third sitting and was expected to be laid on the table of the House as typically done. However, the item was moved further down the list on the Order Paper and is now expected to be laid during a subsequent sitting.

Skelton Cline’s contracts with the government came under fire in the Commission of Inquiry (COI) report, with COI Commissioner Sir Gary Hickinbottom concluding that the contracts demonstrated serious dishonesty on the part of public officials.

“On the evidence, there can be little if any doubt that these contracts were, on their face, false. They did not attempt to set out the intended contractual obligations of Mr Skelton Cline (if any),” Sir Gary found in his findings at the time.

In the meantime, the Auditor General also completed reports on HOA Assistance Grants and EZ Shipping’s government contracts for radar barges after 2019 which cost more than $2 million. In his COI report, Sir Gary recommended a full audit, and if deemed necessary, criminal investigations for government contracts with EZ shipping.

During the COI, Premier Fahie had repeatedly denied initiating an engagement with the proprietor of EZ Shipping, Clyde Chalwell, and said it was an unsolicited proposal sent from the company to his office that started the engagement.

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