Below is the media release published on 2 August 2012 by the Public Accounts Committee confirming that it would be investigating the circumstances surrounding the fraud against the States of Guernsey.
In light of the recent £2.6 million fraud committed against the States of Guernsey, the Public Accounts Committee will seek to ensure financial management and governance lessons will be learnt, shared and changes implemented across the States of Guernsey.
Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Deputy Heidi Soulsby, stated:
“The Committee was shocked and disappointed to learn of the fraud recently suffered by the States of Guernsey. The Committee will carry out a review into the appropriateness of financial controls across the States of Guernsey in the light of the recent fraud.
The review will clearly identify defects in process and procedures and seek assurances on behalf of the public that the States is acting appropriately to safeguard public funds. Where the review identifies areas which require improvement, the Committee will make recommendations accordingly and monitor their implementation”.
The Committee is drawing up the proposed terms of reference of the review in discussion with the Chief Minister, with a view to jointly commissioning external expertise to gather essential evidence once it is clear this will not have a negative impact on the ongoing police investigation.
The Chief Minister commented:
“The Policy Council will be making sure that appropriate steps are being taken to protect the States of Guernsey from the risk of future incidents of this nature. It is also keen to ensure robust and thorough independent scrutiny is given to the circumstances of this case, but recognises that such an investigation needs to be held at arm’s length from the executive functions of the States.
I have been directed by the Policy Council to take these matters forward on its behalf and have met with the Public Accounts Committee to discuss the terms of reference for a comprehensive review drawing on external expertise where appropriate. It has been agreed that the choice of who to commission to carry out such investigations should be a matter for determination by the Public Accounts Committee”
This investigation falls within the Public Accounts Committee’s mandated role to ensure that proper scrutiny is given to States’ expenditure in order that States’ bodies operate to the highest standards in the management of their financial affairs.
Deputy Soulsby stated:
“Work on the review will commence as soon as possible, starting with an examination of the policies and processes and taking into account legal and police advice so as not to prejudice the ongoing police fraud investigation.
It will also be important not to take away the focus of the Treasury and Resources Board and staff from getting on with taking steps to make sure that processes and procedures are as robust as possible so that public money is appropriately safeguarded. These actions will in time form part of what comes under scrutiny in the Committee’s review.”
The Public Accounts Committee is at arm’s length from the departmental executive and is tasked by the States of Guernsey to carry out investigations of this nature. It also has a policy of full disclosure, subject to guidelines where disclosure would not be in the public interest.
Deputy Soulsby said:
“The public will have answers, but I am sure will appreciate that sensitivity and patience is required to ensure that the integrity of the police investigation is not jeopardised and that practical measures to put things right are not in any way delayed.”