Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Accounting irregularities claims rock BIUST

Botswana International University of Science (BIUST) was this week reeling from allegations that it has cooked its books of accounts and obsecured an expenditure of P14 million by stashing it off its balance sheet.

Sources close to the institution claim that it’s financial statement for the year 2015 does not reflect its true financial position. 

Investigations by Sunday Standard have established that in 2014, the Ministry of Education and Skills Development was reluctant to disburse funds to BIUST citing irregularities in its 2013-14 audit result.

After a series of meetings between the Ministry and the university’ officials, an agreement was reached that BIUST should engage the same accounting firm to help its Accounting Department to normalise irregularities that were discovered in the 2013-14 report conducted by another auditing firm.

It is understood that the BIUST’s audited financial report for the year 2014 was qualified and the institution roped in the accounting firm to clean up the irregularities that were discovered in the report by external auditors.

The same accounting firm that was contracted to prepare BIUST’s financials along with its Department of Finance gave the external auditors who compiled the 2014-15 audit report figures that were stored on the Assets Excel Spreadsheet instead of the Oracle Software.

Allegations are that when figures that being prepared for the 2014/15 audit report “could not balance by P14 million,” the accounting firm hid/deleted P14 million from the Accounts Registrar in order to “balance the accounts books” thereby making it seem as if there was never an expense relating to the same account. The money was used to pay a Chinese contractor that was contracted by BIUST.

Another example of questionable accounting is allegations that the figures on the Excel Spread Sheet are not the same as the ones on the BIUST system (oracle software) because the accounting firm that helped the Finance Department to prepare BUIST company’s financials for auditing purposes did not follow the normal process as prescribed by the system.

The Accounting firm supposedly took a shortcut by transferring figures from the BIUST system from the oracle software onto the Excel spreadsheet “so that it could easily fiddle with figures.”   

Reports also indicate that the same accounting firm did not give BIUST value for money because the figures that were later given to external auditors on the Excel spreadsheet do not reflect the true picture of BIUST’s financial position. 

The BIUST authoritarian management style is said to be making it difficult for junior officers to challenge decisions made by their seniors even when they have uncovered or suspect some irregularities. Instead sources said they are expected to save the company’s face even when they suspect some defect in financial reports.

The employees are also questioning the continued presence of the employee of the accounting firm that helped BIUST’s Finance Department to prepare its financials since the audit report for 2015 has been completed.

There are even allegations BIUST Finance Department is non functional (staff sitting idle) due to continued presence of the employee in question.

The continued presence of the said employee is also said to have given rise to suspicion that he could still be manipulating the figures of BIUST financials and that the figures in the 2014-15 audit report do not reflect the true financial position of BUIST.

The said employee has also changed the structure of the Finance Department by introducing the Asset Division despite the fact that there was no such recommendation from BIUST Management.

BIUST’s acting Director, Communications and Public Affairs Keoagile Rafifing could not provide specific answers when responding to issues that were raised in a Sunday Standard questionnaire.

He said “The BIUST Financial statements were audited by a reputable audit firm and the financial statements were unqualified (ok) and reflect a true record of transactions which took place between 2013, 2014 and 2015.” 

“Therefore, all allegations that the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015 are not true and unfounded,” said Rafifing.

Reports reaching this publication suggest that recently there had been a break in which crucial and confidential documents including a computer hard drive were stolen by unknown burglars.

It is understood that the break-in is linked to malpractices and irregularities bedeviling the university.

Palapye Station Commander Superintendent Waboraro Ramaja confirmed the incident. 

“It is true that there was an office break-in at the BIUST and no arrests have been made thus far.  At this juncture I am not in a position to share any information with the media as the investigations are still ongoing,” he said.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.