Cabinet still deliberating on Turnquest Scandal as Minister sinks deeper into quagmire! How much of the funds went to the FNM and DNA?
NASSAU| A forensic investigation ordered by the companies that have accused Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest of fraud has revealed that Turnquest signed 11 cheques totaling $1.5 million to Sky Bahamas between July 7, 2008 and April 22, 2016 but auditors could find no reason for the payments.
The investigation was launched in February 2020 to determine if various payments made by Alpha Aviation, Advanced Aviation and AOG Maintenance Company to Sky Bahamas (second defendant in lawsuit) and various entities were used as intended or whether “fraud and/or malfeasance occurred.”
Turnquest has been accused of being involved in $20 million fraud and a “bogus scam” in a writ filed against Captain Randy Butler and Sky Bahamas.
During the time the alleged fraud occurred, Peter Turnquest was Director and General Manager of Alpha Aviation and Advanced Aviation and signed a large percentage of the companies’ checks. He was also a partner and chairman of Sky Bahamas at the time.
According to the forensic audit, Turnquest also signed five cheques totaling $112,700 made out to Randy Butler (first defendant in lawsuit) between July 15, 2008 and April 1, 2011 but did not state a reason for the payments.
Turnquest’s signature was also on six cheques made out to AOG maintenance totaling $595,000 and listed in the general ledger as a loan to AOG. He also signed 14 cheques to Aviation Oversight (third defendant in lawsuit) totaling $1.6 million dollars. Those cheques were also categorized as loans to AOG maintenance in the general ledger. AOG Maintenance was managed by Randy Butler who was also CEO of Sky Bahamas.
The investigation concluded that the “unsupported transactions” raised red flags that may indicate fraud and/or malfeasance.
Auditors concluded, “The transactions identified do not specify the reason payments or loans were made or their intended purpose. A posting to a general ledger without any further descriptions as to purpose showed lack of due care. Further, none of these transactions had any supporting documentation attached.”
The investigation also revealed that between February 11, 2016 and December 20, 2016, Turnquest signed 14 cheques that were not compliant.
One of those cheques, in the amount of $250,000, was made out to Sky Bahamas – which Turnquest was a partner and chairman of – on July 18, 2016.
Turnquest also signed five cheques made out to Aviation Oversight, totaling $476,040, between August 12, 2016 and December 5, 2016.
The forensic audit found that the cheques were deemed non-compliant because “K. P. Turnquest required [company owner] Fred Kaiser’s signature for amounts that exceeded his limit of $10,000”.
However, Kaiser’s signature was not on any of the cheques in question.
The audit also revealed that Ellison Delva, whose signature was on the Aviation Oversight cheques along with Turnquest’s in 2016, “was not authorized to sign on Alpha Aviation’s account until June 16, 2017. During this period, Delva was only authorized to sign on Advanced Aviation’s account.
Auditors also discovered that the approval limit was $10,000 for Turnquest when signing alone. However, he alone signed checks in the amount of $19,142.50 to Oceanview Owners Association on three separate occasions.
The investigation concluded, “While the transactions that were processed may have been legitimate, they lacked proper support, and some were not in compliance with the FCIB mandate. This raised red flags because it gave the appearance of malfeasance.”
Auditors said several red flags they discovered that indicate there was fraud and/or malfeasance are “the unauthorized payments made by unauthorized signatories and managers exceeding their authorized limits, discrepancies in the accounting records such as transactions not recorded or recorded improperly by payer and accounting period, unsupported transactions and missing documents.”