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A 'clear conflict of interest'

A “conflict of interest” occurred when companies linked to the wife of Works and Engineering manager Kyril Burrows were paid by Government, the Accountant General told Supreme Court.

Joyce Hayward said her department was not aware of the issue, and the payments would never have been made if it was.

She went on to tell the court that if Mr Burrows also spent public money on his private home as prosecutors allege, that was a breach of Government's financial rules too.

Mr Burrows, 48, who worked as Buildings Manager within Works and Engineering, is on trial along with his wife, Delcina Bean-Burrows, 49. They are accused of misappropriating more than $553,000 of Government money between them to live a lifestyle beyond their means.

Mr Burrows is accused of dishonestly submitting invoices so Government paid the J&M Construction company to rebuild the house they shared in Turkey Hill, St George's.

J&M manager John White told the trial last week that he was hired to renovate the house by Mr Burrows, who told him it was Government property. Mr White said he received payment from Government for his work.

Mr and Mrs Burrows are further alleged by prosecutors to have illegally funnelled Government cash to Mrs Bean Burrows' companies Ren Tech and Theravisions. Yesterday, the jury viewed a number of documents detailing payments amounting to thousands of dollars made by Government to Ren Tech.

They were paid out, according to Ms Hayward, in response to invoices for work installing hoardings at schools relating to Hurricane Florence. Prosecutors allege this work was never done.

Ms Hayward told the jury on Tuesday that Financial Instructions rules are in place to ensure taxpayers' money is spent correctly. She confirmed that as Buildings Manager, Mr Burrows would have been subject to those rules.

Yesterday, prosecutor Kirsty-Ann Kiellor asked Ms Hayward if there were any circumstances under which Government would pay for work to be done at a staff member's private house.

She replied: “No, unless it was preapproved (such as) if that house was to be used for a Member of Parliament of some other Parliament to visit and it was being used for a Government purpose.”

Ms Kiellor inquired: “Are you aware of any reports that the property at Turkey Hill, St George's, was a Government property?”

“No,” replied Ms Hayward.

“Were any Government funds to be spent on that property?” asked Ms Kiellor.

“No,” replied Ms Hayward.

The prosecutor then inquired if the Accountant General would expect to know if a Government employee's wife was doing business with Government.

Ms Hayward said she would expect to see records of the transactions. She explained that prior to the investigation which led to the court proceedings, she did not know who Mrs Bean-Burrows was and did not know she had ties to Ren Tech.

However, she said, the investigation done by her office revealed that items for Government offices were purchased from Ren Tech. She told the jury that if Mrs Bean-Burrows was involved in that company, the transactions in question would amount to a conflict of interest under the Financial Instructions.

“The company was doing business with Government and Mr Burrows at the time was the type of level employee that would need to disclose that,” she explained.

She confirmed there were no records of any such disclosure. She further confirmed that no such records existed in respect of Government payments to Theravisions either.

Ms Hayward told the jury Government also did business with a company named Health Tech Renaissance. According to the prosecutor, Mrs Bean-Burrows was also involved in that company, which Ms Hayward confirmed would be viewed as a conflict of interest.

Ms Hayward said she could find no records of any such conflict of interest being disclosed to her by Mr Burrows in relation to Ren Tech, Theravisions and Health Tech Renaissance.

“What does it mean if Mr Burrows has failed to notify of the conflict of interest with these three companies?” inquired the prosecutor.

“That there has been a breach of the Financial Instructions,” replied Ms Hayward.

Ms Kiellor asked if the lack of any reports to the Accountant General relating to the conflicts of interest had any significance.

“That means that we do not have all of the information that would be needed to make a good decision regarding whether these payments should have been made or shouldn't have been made,” replied Ms Hayward.

Mr Burrows faces further charges alleging that he illegally spent Government cash on televisions discovered in his home. Looking at purchase orders relating to television sets, Ms Hayward noted the signature on them appeared to be that of Mr Burrows. She said the payments for the goods would not have been made by her department if she was aware the items were for personal rather than Government use.

Mr Burrows and his wife have pleaded not guilty to 35 charges spanning the period January 2005 to July 2008. The charges relate to allegations of cheating, obtaining money transfers by deception, obtaining property by deception, money laundering and false accounting, and the case continues.

Accountant General Joyce Chesley-Hayward (Photo by Akil Simmons) March 20,2012

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Published March 22, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 22, 2012 at 9:33 am)

A 'clear conflict of interest'

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