AN INDEPENDENT consultant auditor acting for government began this week to examine electronic payment processes and their controls following recent fraudulent activity by civil servants.

Last month, former clerk in the Accountant Generalâs Office Clayton Busby was imprisoned for three months for stealing $159,493. Yesterday, the Department of Public Prosecutions applied to have another former member of the Accountant Generalâs Office, Harrison Isaac Jr., extradited to the U.S. to be tried for the alleged theft of $1.9 million. An Immigration officer has also been suspended on allegations that cash has gone missing.

Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Kulandra Ratneser told the media yesterday that it was sheer coincidence that the three cases came about in such quick succession and he was not concerned about Governmentâs security procedures. ãGovernmentâs controls are very good, but at the same time if you are placed in a position of trust you have all the opportunities to steal,ä he said. ãAs long as there is a human mind, people will find ways and means of stealing money so no amount of control is going to stop people from finding ingenious methods to steal money.ä His sentiments follow comments by Minister Cox on Friday when she told the House of Assembly that Governmentâs system of internal financial controls had led to the detection of the fraud, but ãcannot prevent dishonesty nor cure dishonest individualsä. The Minister said that while financial impropriety can sometimes tarnish the image and reputation of an entire organisation, this instance did not reflect on the moral and ethical standing of the 1,700 public officers in the civil service. She said: ãThe vast majority of our civil servants are honest and have high integrity. Many of them stepped forward to assist in the apprehension of the perpetrators.ä

Government plans to make public the main findings of the review, which is expected to be complete at the end of May. The Minister said Government is ãcommitted to making sure that robust internal controls are in place in every Government Department and that such controls are rigorously monitored for compliance.ä She also told the House there will be an additional overall review of controls and compliance procedures in Government Departments with a particular emphasis on revenue-collecting departments. She said Government will also take all available steps to recoup public monies and other assets that have been misappropriated through the fraudulent activity.