Seychelles' gov't committee looking closely at missing $ 6.7 million, official says
Ahmed Afif is the vice-chair of the Finance and Public Account Committee in the Seychelles National Assembly. (Facebook)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Finance and Public Account Committee in the Seychelles National Assembly is to decide on what steps to take in their next meeting on the missing $6.7 million (SCR90 million) found in the report of the auditor general, said the vice-chair.
The report, which was released end of last month, relates to payments made by the Seychelles National Drugs Enforcement Agency (NDEA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to two companies in Mauritius.
Speaking to SNA, the vice-chair of the committee, Ahmed Afif, said that the first indication that something was wrong was when the draft budget for 2017 was presented.
“After two or three questions, we noticed that there was something wrong, especially with regard to other goods and services where we had asked to see the contracts that were established, and that had not been possible,” said Afif.
The vice-chair said that this prompted a request to the Department of Finance to investigate which companies were receiving public funds.
“Based on the information we received from the department and their Mauritian colleagues, we decided to ask the Auditor General to do an investigation. The report was presented to the public in July,” he said.
The audit report presented on July 27 by the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan, highlighted that payments made to two Mauritius based companies were done without following standard procedures set up by local authorities.
Now that the report has been made public what is the next step?
“The committee will be meeting to determine which organisations we need to examine. If it is possible, to interview directly the Irish officials who were at the head of the FIU and the NDEA, in order to establish the facts," Afif said.
He added however that the National Assembly cannot bring in the Irish Nationals because, “we are not a court or the police. What we have to do is to establish facts, and then the competent authorities, mainly the Department of Finance, will seek the assistance of the police, from the court if necessary, to get them.”
He added that the Central Bank will also be called because the Financial Intelligence Unit set up to combat money laundering in 2006 was under its responsibility since February 2010.
On the question as to why the newly set up Anti-corruption Commission has not taken up the case, Afif said, “I think that what has been said shows that there could be corruption, but we have also pointed out that we have not yet finished our work.”
He said that the Commission is waiting for the end of the investigation of Finance and Public Account Committee in the National Assembly to see what needs to be followed up.
The Finance and Public Account Committee was set up to examine the report on the accounts of government of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. It also reports on the effectiveness and efficiency of public financial management by ensuring transparency and accountability.