Trinidad – Probe in T&T Children’s Life Fund
PORT OF SPAIN – Interim chairman of the Children’s Life Fund Authority (CLFA) Dr Colin Furlonge is promising a thorough audit into all allegations of theft and financial misappropriation as uncovered in a TV6 News and Express investigation over the last few days.
The Children’s Life Fund was the brainchild of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and she boasts of the number of less fortunate children it has helped with medical expenses.
Furlonge, who is also the Chief Medical Officer, said questions only arose in 13 cases of the 221 children the fund has helped.
Speaking on TV6’s Morning Edition yesterday, Furlonge said the board of directors will determine whether an employee forged parents’ signatures and took money owed to them for travel expenses.
“We are engaging in a forensic audit to look at all matters from the beginning to the end. Hopefully, we can expedite that because there is a need to clear the air. I don’t think they will find that money was misappropriated in terms of hospitals. The other matter, we are taking it seriously but remember, out of 13 cases in which money was handed to the CEO, four were to Miss Genevieve Madoo whereas she claims money went elsewhere,” he said
Senior police sources told the Express Madoo was summoned to the Fraud Squad in Port of Spain yesterday, to give an official statement to police on allegations of the theft of US money she uncovered while she was CEO from March 2014 to May 2105.
Approached outside the Fraud Squad building in Port of Spain, Madoo sought to clear the air on statements made earlier by Furlonge that she had collected the money to be disbursed among four sick children.
Madoo said she was instructed to do so by the former chairman, Varun Maharaj, and indicated at that time Dr Furlonge was a board member so she reluctantly collected the US cash. She added there was a paper trail to prove there was no wrongdoing on her part.
“There is documentation, contrary to what Dr Furlonge and what Mr (Dennis) Cox have said, to show that the individual did sign on a document called the letter of agreement between the parent and the Children’s Life Fund Authority. The individual in question who allegedly took the funds, her name is on that document, as well as the parents, and it is the same date as the name of the cash receipts for monies for meals and transport as well; you would find that the documentation is lining up,” she said.
Madoo said it was while doing background checks in April this year, she discovered some parents didn’t get the money promised, a trend she noticed had taken place even before she became CEO.
“I am surprised that they would even say that; I thought that they would know these things,” said Madoo.
The former CEO claimed she was being used as a scapegoat to conceal the true extent of the fraud she uncovered under her watch.
“I am not surprised, given the type of things that they have also said in reference to Mr Cox’s statement that this is ‘bacchanalish’. The thing about the wire transfers and the meal allowance and transport, they happened in isolated events. There was no issue of rushing the board on anything,” she said.
Madoo said although these events were brought to the attention of the board in April 2014 and October 2014, the board never acted on it.
In fact, Madoo claims she was silenced for what she might have uncovered, making reference to the questionable wire transfers highlighted in TV6 News and Express investigative stories.
“The bank did forward an e-mail of wire transfers to me. I brought this to the attention of the board at the December 3 meeting, 2014. After having brought that, Dr Furlonge got very upset with me and said he did not want me forwarding any of the information to him; he only wanted the printed e-mail of the contents of the message the supervisor sent,” said Madoo.
Madoo said she complied with this request and Dr Furlonge then asked the bank to forward the relevant information to him.