Saturday, December 1, 2012

Major storm brewing at NIB

Major storm brewing at NIB

The chairman of the National Insurance Board (NIB), Gregory Moss sent a 22 page letter dated November 8th, 2012 to Minister Shane Gibson alleging several misappropriate actions taken by NIB Director, Algernon Cargill. For reasons still unknown, this internal communication was leaked in the public domain for all and sundry to read. Since then, Cargill has been put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation.

When I heard this news story, my heart literally raced. The NIB is known as a big revenue maker for the Bahamas and every Bahamian at some point comes into contact with this agency.  If an agency of this nature were to be left unchecked and protocols not followed, the potential for fraud and the misappropriation of funds could exponentially increase and this is certainly not good for the financial health of the country.

Cargill has secured former Attorney General Alfred Sears as his attorney. He seems committed to vigorously defending his integrity and his management decisions.

Reports also said that Grant Thornton has been hired to conduct a fiscal audit at NIB. This is certainly a reputable company and I am sure that they will call it as they see it.

I wonder where the paper trail will lead. Will the government cause the audit to go as far back as five, 10 years? Will the former chairman and the former director be called in to explain possible variances? Will members of the cabinet be called in to explain decisions that apparently were not in keeping with best business practices and not in the best interest of the country? Or will Cargill be vindicated and his actions deemed as appropriate?

The chairman of the NIB board Mr. Gregory Moss has made some serious allegations against Cargill. If the forensic accounting of the financial accounts does show improprieties, then what will the penalty be? Will the findings be swept under the rug and Cargill be given a hefty retirement package? Or will Perry Christie’s government do what is necessary to show that they are serious about safeguarding the public’s money? Will Cargill be fired as the board now recommends?

The allegations in the 22 page report that cited pervasive conflicts of interest by Cargill in my view speak to a larger problem in our government departments. One of the allegations notes that the former prime minister and the former chairman of the NIB board were made aware of an instance in which a conflict of interest existed, yet they did nothing to rectify this situation. There have been several other high profile cases of allegations of misappropriation of funds in other government agencies, particularly at the Ministry of Education with the Education Loan Authority and at the Mortgage Corporation.  

I was astonished to learn from the report that the NIB paid over $5,000 dollars to a local company to install a plug for a printer. I have convinced myself that this must have been a misprint or the scope of work was not properly defined.

I am calling on the government of the day to please bring attention to the freedom of information act. When will this be in effect? The decisions being made by public officials are certainly the public’s business.

Cargill has not had a chance to defend himself against the allegations brought against him and many Bahamians are eagerly awaiting his response. I intend to watch the developments in this story very carefully and I am calling on all the media houses to vigorously seek the truth and make it readily available for public dissemination. No pussy footing around. Just report the truth.

Dehavilland Moss

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