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Tuesday, October 4, 2022


Fraud is the most costly of all non-violent crimes, accounting for more than $200 billion a year in losses in the United States, the territory's inspector general said Saturday.
Steven van Beverhoudt, in an address to the annual meeting of the League of Women Voters, said it would take 4,000 years for
burglars to steal the amount of money that was stolen in the S&L scams of the late '80s.
Van Beverhoudt claimed that $180 million in accounts receivable at the territory's hospitals, $2 million in bad checks to the government, $20 million in outstanding real estate taxes, $20 million in overtime payments and $50 million in professional service contracts were just some of the reasons for the V.I. government's fiscal disaster.
Van Beverhoudt also noted that the gross mishandling of V.I. government vehicles had led in 1998 to an Associated Press story called "Car 54, where are you?"
The V.I. Bureau of Audit and Control is one of the few government audit agencies in the country that does not have an investigative arm, according to van Beverhoudt. He also pointed out that in most states the audit bureaus are attached to the legislative bodies.
In the Virgin Islands, the governor appoints the inspector general to a six-year term and the bureau is part of the executive branch of government. Van Beverhoudt supports moving the audit agency to the Legislature's purview.
He said all audits are automatically turned over to the Attorney General's Office for investigation and prosecution, where appropriate. The reports are also sent to the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI.
"They asked us to put them on our mailing list," he said.
However, though all audits are sent on for further investigation, very few end in prosecution of white collar crimes, he said.
And the ones that do are usually "small time people — a few collectors," van Beverhoudt said. "I am convinced if the government had taken our recommendations more seriously over the years, our current fiscal state would be different."
Van Beverhoudts most recent audit, released last week, covered the lump-sum payments made during the final days of the Schneider
administration, known as "the midnight raid."
Van Beverhoudt said that audit has been sent to the AG's office for investigation, complete with the 36 names of people receiving the lump-sum payments.
Attorney General Iver A. Stridiron said last week he turned that audit over to his white-collar crime unit. Gov. Charles W. Turnbull said his administration plans to follow the recommendations in all audits as a way to get the territory back on sound financial footing.
The next item on the audit bureau's agenda is overtime payments.
Van Beverhoudt said an attempt was made previously to audit overtime but "when we went in to start the audits, the information was so overwhelming we decided we would attack each agency individually."
He would not say which agencies were the biggest offenders. "Some of these issues are very sensitive," he said.
Van Beverhoudt said his office is free to start an audit whenever it deems it appropriate, but limited resources dictate the amount and importance of what the bureau can accomplish.
He said he was not allowed during the Schneider administration to fill five vacant positions, including that of deputy inspector general. That post has been vacant since 1995. He said he was about to hire someone for that position.
Van Beverhoudt expressed frustration at his office's lack of resources and the government's failure to respond to the recommendations in his audit reports.

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