Four months after Linden Town Clerk Jenella Bowen was sent on administrative leave pending investigations into alleged wrongdoings within the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC), Councillors are pressing for answers regarding the results of the investigations as well as an audit of the Council, which had ensued.
Linden Mayor Carwyn Holland had made calls for the Communities Ministry to conduct an audit into the Council and its accounts soon after the Town Clerk was sent on leave. However, when pressed by Councillors during the hosting of the latest statutory meeting of the LM&TC, he could not say for certain what sort of audit had ensued.
Bowen had been accused of withholding documents of the Council and attempting to leave with important documents on the day she was sent on leave, among other things. However, acting Town Clerk Orleena Obermuller, who also serves as Deputy Town Clerk, told the Council that the audit which was conducted by the Communities Ministry has since been put on hold owing to the fact that the Council did not have the relevant documentation as it related to the assets it owned.
In pressing for answers, Councillor Lennox Gasper noted that Bowen was sent on administrative leave pending investigation, indicating that from his understanding, the audit of the Council which has since been put on hold was also part of the investigations. He sought clarity on if that meant that the Town Clerk’s position was also put on hold, as there were no records or accounts to complete the audit. Gasper further sought to find out if the audit was a general one or one specific to finances.
Addressing the Council, Municipal Treasurer Audrey Nelson said that she was unaware as to what sort of audit had been carried out at the Council by the Ministry, since no one had been informed.
“I don’t know what kind of audit they were doing. They asked for information, I gave it to them. Nobody informed us…,” she said.
Gasper indicated that he would move in the direction of moving a motion to facilitate a forensic audit of the finances of the Council.
“We have the audit which was done after the forceful exodus of the Town Clerk, Miss Bowen and we need a report on that audit that was done and either at this forum or later down, I would want to move a motion for this Council to have a forensic audit done within the finances because if things could be happening unknown to the Council, I’m sure finances are being spent also unknown to the Council…,” he said.
Mayor Holland told members of the Council that he was presently awaiting a response on the matter of the Town Clerk from Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, who had assured him of a response.
With regard to the audit of the Council, the Mayor said upon enquiring of the Permanent Secretary within the Communities Ministry, he was told that audits were normally carried out at local municipalities.
Meanwhile, Councillor Derron John said the audit had to do with things which were taken out of the Town Council, which it was seeking to clarify. Clearly dissatisfied with the pace of the investigations, Councillor Elize Benjamin said the Council needed to take action if there was no word from the Minister within a specific time regarding the Town Clerk, since the Council needed to move forward. (Utamu Belle)