March 14, 2007 — A V.I. government audit of Carnival 2004 has turned up a slew of poor record-keeping practices but little evidence of overt corruption.
The V.I. Inspector General's audit of the 2004 V.I. Carnival Committee came at the request of the V.I. Legislature, which had questioned the legality of some of the committee's accounting practices in recent years.
The audit found the committee failed to: keep accurate track of how many tickets were sold at events, follow established procedures for purchase order forms, ensure that checks were properly voided, file required financial reports with the Lieutenant Governor's Office and use correct accounting methods when submitting the profit-and-loss statement for the 2004 Carnival activities.
Taxpayers donated nearly half the committee's budget — $350,000 from V.I. Housing, Parks and Recreation alone.
Committee records show they collected $693,621 in revenue for carnival 2004, but spent $839,336 — a loss of $145,715, according to the audit from Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt.
The audit, however, found this number to be $47,715 too much because the committee failed to include a $10,000 contribution from the V.I. Port Authority, overstated a sponsorship donation by $1,000 and included 2003 expenses paid in 2004, as well as 2004 expenses paid in 2005.
"We found that although, in general, the Committee had good internal controls over revenues and disbursements," it failed to "follow their own operating policies and procedures," the audit said.
"As a result: reported ticket sales deposits were short between $1,680 and $3,060; revenues from the stadium outlet could not be reconciled; the source of purchase orders could not be identified; internal controls were compromised when 18 checks were cashed for a total of $17,050; the required financial statements were not filed at the Lieutenant Governors Office; and the profit-and-loss statement filed was incorrectly prepared," the audit said.
The report recommended more accurate accounting, including internal audits.
Carnival Committee Chairman Kenneth Blake said the financial shortfalls and unaccounted ticket sales were in part due to inaccurate record keeping and clerical mistakes but also appear, he said, because of the Inspector General's narrow view of how the Carnival Committee operates.
Blake also wanted the Inspector General to vindicate the committee of perceived wrongdoing, a much-talked-about topic in previous legislatures.
"We are proud of our organization and happy that the audit has proven that there is no corruption within the operations of our committee," Blake said. "We are however, very displeased with your refusal to answer the basic question in a manner sufficiently simplistic for the entire community to understand without having to form his or her own interpretation of the report."
Blake continued: "According to you, the audit was initiated at the request of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, and we are all aware that members of the same Legislature were publicly leveling allegations of corruption and misuse of funds against the leadership of the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee." Furthermore, that issue was one of the most talked about in the news media on personal levels for several years."
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