SPALDING, Clarendon — Even as a major fraud investigation is ongoing at Knox Community College in Clarendon, reliable sources say at least five staff members have been sent on leave, pending completion of the probe.
An authoritative source says the fraud could amount to $60 million, taken from two bank accounts.
Chairman of the school board, Dunbar McFarlane, Principal Dr Davia Ramgeet and Deputy Commissioner of Police Fitz Bailey were tight-lipped on Wednesday as to the exact amount allegedly defrauded from the school’s accounts.
A highly placed source told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday that the alleged fraud was discovered last week at a retreat held to plan activities for the new calendar year..
The source said $50 million was discovered missing from one account and then it was picked up that another $10 million had gone missing from another account.
The source said the alleged fraud was done by falsifying cheques.
“What apparently happened is that it was picked up that the accounts should have had more money. For example, the board makes a decision to give somebody that is sick $100,000 from an account and the money was paid over to the person,” the source said. “Another cheque was written to the same person [for $630,000] but the person didn’t get it,” the source added.
Board chair McFarlane told the Observer that he could only “confirm that there is a problem”.
DCP Bailey, meanwhile, confirmed that the police were looking into the matter.
The Knox Community College main campus is a part of the Knox complex of schools, located in Spalding, Clarendon. The community college also has campuses in Mandeville, Cobbla and May Pen.
A statement from the school, which has the principal’s name affixed, said certain irregularities involving the falsification of a number of cheques issued by the college were discovered. “The discovery was prompted by a recent call from our bankers, seeking to verify three cheques presented to them on the day; three cheques with numbers coinciding with ones issued by the college, but apparently altered to reflect greater amounts. Subsequent internal checks revealed that other cheque had in fact been paid previously,” the statement read in part.
The school said it then reported the matter to the authorities.
“The matter has been reported to our board of management, our auditors, the deputy commissioner of police, crime and security portfolio, the Ministry of Education and Youth, the general secretary of the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, as well as our bankers (NCB) Fraud Prevention Unit,” the statement said.
Regarding reports that at least five people were sent on leave, Knox Community College in its statement said:” The matter is now under full investigation by the relevant authorities, and, in the meantime, several staff of the accounts department have been placed on administrative leave. Contingency measures have been put in place to ensure business continuity.”