4 identified in $8 million fraud case …”CRACKDOWN AT THA”

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Even before the Fraud Squad completes its investigation into an $8 million fraud in Tobago, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) has identified four of its employees as being involved in some way.

Two employees of the THA’s Tourism, Culture and Transportation Division have been ordered to stop reporting for duty while two others have been referred to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for disciplinary action.

The decision comes on the heels of a Fraud Squad investigation into an alleged wire transfer fraud involving $8 million intended for airlift arrangements with Virgin Atlantic Airways. The money was reportedly deposited into an incorrect bank account. Virgin Atlantic has not been paid.

On Monday, THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said the action was initiated against the employees due to the seriousness and severity of the matter. He said two of the four involved are public officers so their matters were referred to the PSC for disciplinary action.

He said until the THA is advised by the PSC, those two employees will remain on duty at the division. But the other two, who are contract workers, have been told to cease reporting for duty with immediate effect.

The issue was first highlighted by THA Minority member Farley Augustine last week.

It is alleged a senior division official, after allegedly receiving an email from Virgin Atlantic about a change in their bank account, gave instructions for monies meant for the airline to be wired to a new account in the UK. The money was subsequently withdrawn and the account closed in the UK.

It was later learnt that Virgin Atlantic never collected the money, which was for airlift agreements from the UK to Tobago. The THA official later claimed his email account was hacked.

Augustine had demanded that the THA send all those identified as being involved on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Charles said the THA was working with the Fraud Squad to ensure the case is resolved in the shortest possible time.

The Fraud Squad was called in after the money was reported missing.

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THA’s Tourism, Culture and Transportation Division building in Tobago.

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