Police are in the process of conducting a preliminary “scoping exercise” into the Auditor General’s special report on the controversial Elmore Stoutt High School perimeter wall to ascertain whether a full-blown criminal investigation is warranted.
“We’re looking at that the facts the Auditor General has brought together, we’re looking at the conclusions that the Auditor General’s office reached, and we’re looking at the data that the Auditor General has referred to. From there, if we believe that this warrants a proper, further investigation, then that’s exactly what we’ll have to do,” said Police Commissioner Michael Matthews while speaking to during the ‘Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton Cline’ radio show on Tuesday.
Commissioner Matthews said a senior police detective has been assigned to conduct that scoping exercise which he hopes to complete “in the coming weeks”.
Keeping an open mind
The top cop said he and his team will remain impartial throughout the process.
He further noted that the Auditor General’s findings in her report could be the result of any number of factors, and not necessarily because there was wrongdoing.
“At this moment in time, in reading the findings of an audit, that doesn’t tell me enough. It doesn’t tell me whether the outcome was the result of ignorance, was the result of incompetence, or was something more dishonest. And, of course, we don’t jump to any conclusions. I keep an open mind, as you would expect to do,” Matthews said.
If, however, their preliminary exercise points to criminality, Matthews said he will then have to assign ‘a number of resources’ to conduct the full investigation.
Outside experts may be needed if full investigation activates
The resources that might be assigned, he said, could mean outsourcing experts for the investigation.
“It’s no secret, for example, that, there were over 70 contractors involved, I think. If we are going to go into full investigation mode, we’re going to need to speak to all of those contractors. So, I’m going to have to assign resources for that and that may well mean finding the right expertise. If that means bringing expertise into the territory, I will do that or it might be that we’ve got the expertise in the Force,” Matthews explained.
“But, we’re jumping ahead at the moment because, of course, I don’t know if we’re actually ever going to get into that mode or whether we reach a conclusion that says there is insufficient [evidence] here to suggest that anything unlawful has happened,” he added.
The Auditor General’s report
According to the findings of the report on the near-million dollar wall-construction project, Walwyn’s ministry did not comply with the government’s Public Finance Regulations — laws that govern such projects.
Auditor General Sonia Webster further accused the Myron Walwyn-led ministry of producing ‘false’ information to the government’s treasury department in relation to the project.
On the other hand, while maintaining that there was no dishonesty involved in the project, Minister Walwyn accused the Auditor General of producing an unbalanced and lacking report. And following Governor Augustus Jaspert’s move to place the report in the hands of police weeks ago, Walwyn accused him (the governor) of trying to interfere with the electoral process of the British Virgin Islands.
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