Police have been called in at this island’s central revenue collection authority following reports that thousands of dollars have gone missing.
Barbados TODAY was unable to confirm the precise amount. However, late Friday evening lawmen confirmed that they had arrested and formally charged a female employee of the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) with two theft-related offences.
Karla Cherese Morris, 33, of Mount Friendship, St Michael is accused of stealing money belonging to the Crown on May 15 this year.
She has been formally charged with theft of money and falsifying an account, and is expected to appear in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court Saturday in connection with the offences.
Barbados TODAY understands that the administrative assistant, who was recently on sick leave, was reportedly nabbed from a plane and taken in by police for questioning over the missing funds.
In a brief statement Friday evening on the matter, BRA said that in the execution of its internal audit function it discovered a number of “anomalous transactions which appeared to indicate fraudulent activity.
“As is required by the governing legislation of the Financial Management Audit Act Cap 5., the Authority reported the incident to the Financial Investigations Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
“The incident has now become a matter under investigation by the police, therefore the Authority is unable to comment any further,” the brief statement added.
However, the development comes at the height of concerns about the slack way in which the BRA currently operates.
In his latest report for 2016 which was released earlier this week, Auditor General Leigh Trotman reported on the findings of a detailed audit of the operations of BRA.
Based on that investigation, Trotman said there was worrying evidence of several infelicities, including a shortage of vital financial accounting information, understated tax revenues and unverifiable refunds balances.
And even though no shares have been issued by the central revenue collection agency, it was laughable that a figure for share capital was reported in BRA’s statement of changes of equity for the 2015/2016 financial year.
“This is misleading and should be corrected to reflect a more accurate assessment of the activities of the Fund,” the Auditor General has warned.
In his 152-page report for last year, Trotman also reported that even though BRA reported assets of $3.7 million and liabilities of $392,000, there were no schedules or other forms of documentation presented to support these balances.
At the same time, grant income from the Ministry of Finance in the amount of $28 million was understated by $4.3 million, while the Authority’s expenditure was said to be overstated by $309,000.
As for the figure of $37 million which was given for income tax refunds and $105 million for corporate tax refunds, these could not be verified; neither could the Authority’s Statement of Administered Revenue, which was recorded at $2.1 million.
The Auditor General’s review of BRA’s accounting records also revealed an unexplained difference of $749,000 between unreconciled cash and unpresented cheques as at March, 31, 2016. There was a further difference of $1.2 million between what was presented in the schedules and the statement of administered revenues.
More alarmingly, property taxes came up short by $57 million after a comparison was made by the Auditor General of the expected revenue and actual taxes collected.