APNU/AFC spent $4.9M on equipment for non-existent barber shop

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Christopher Jones

Police have applied for a search warrant to gain access to the home of senior A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) official, Christopher Jones, after it was allegedly reported that $4.9 million in barbershop equipment purchased by the former Administration is stored on his property.

However, when Police went to the home of the former Director of Sports, in Tucville, Georgetown, they were refused entry and told to get a search warrant. By this time, several APNU officials, including Executives of both People’s National Congress (PNC) and Alliance for Change (AFC), also turned up at the property as Police stood guard.

According to audit documents seen by this publication, the regional administration received an Inter/Intra Departmental Warrant (IDW) 6/2019 dated June 19, 2019, from the Social Protection Ministry valuing $4.985 million for the procurement of equipment for the barbershop under Sustainable Livelihood and Entrepreneurial Development (SLED).

A Financial Return presented revealed that the full amount was expended as at December 31, 2019. An audit examination of the relevant records revealed that the warrant was expended via two payment vouchers to the value of $4.084 million and $900,999.

Audit documents revealed that approval was not granted from the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for the procurement of a Condensing Unit valuing $1.528 million.

However, audit checks revealed that the item was still purchased and supplied. Additionally, further, audit checks revealed that the cheque was paid to the supplier on October 2, 2019, but the time of reporting in August 2020, items to the value of $900,999 were not supplied.

Meanwhile, the audit report stated that a physical inspection of the assets purchased revealed that items valuing $4.084 million were still not put into use, since these items were stored in a room at the residence of the beneficiary, Christopher Jones.

Further, the audit report stated that details of a letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Social Protection Ministry dated May 22, 2019, states that the items were to be procured for the beneficiary who “operates” a barbershop.

However, at the time of the physical verification, it was discovered that the beneficiary does not operate a barbershop, since the construction of the said barbershop has not yet commenced.