Over $100,000 in cash for copra payments may have been stolen from Tobolar by employees, according to the most recent Deloitte audit of the agency.
A total of $27,077 in leftover copra cash was not returned to Tobolar by employees, and another $80,000 is unaccounted for, the audit said. It pointed out that Tobolar issues checks to cash for payments to copra makers. Auditors only tested 75 expenditures and raised concerns about 17 of these transactions — or one out of four. Of over $79,000 that was “left over” from payments to copra makers, only $52,554 was returned to Tobolar by employees, leaving $27,077 unaccounted for.
In addition, “cash advances of $80,000 were provided to employees for the purchase of copra and were not supported by a summary of copra purchase report or a series of copra purchase tickets as evidence that purchases occurred,” auditors said.
Auditors said a lack of established procedures requiring payments to be “accurately supported, identified, recorded and paid” created an “increased risk of fraud or cash theft.”
Auditor General Junior Patrick said his office is conducting a “separate review” of not only Tobolar copra cash handling, but also related to other financial management problems identified in earlier audits of Tobolar. When complete, the investigation report from the Auditor General will go to the Attorney General, he said.
The Deloitte audit said Tobolar needed procedures that require returned cash to be deposited by the next banking day instead of the several day delay noted as regular practice.
Tobolar management agreed with the audit recommendations and said it would take steps “to improve the situation,” including periodic review of copra payments. It also said it it will “adopt policies for proper documentation of transactions and set necessary procedures to ensure such transactions are properly recorded and classified.”
This was one of six problems identified by auditors in the FY2014 audit.
Read more about this in the June 3, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.