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PM To Longsworth: You’re Fired!

PM To Longsworth: You’re Fired!
January 25
10:49 2020

PM To Longsworth: You’re Fired!

Belize’s Consul-General to the United Nations (UN), Herman Longsworth has been instructed to wrap up his affairs at the Consulate and hand over by February 21. This follows last week’s scandal that broke when the 2016 Audit Report was revealed. It cites Longsworth’s alleged involvement in the misappropriation of Sports Council monies on several occasions while he was Minister of State for Sports.

The Government’s Press Office informed on Wednesday that Prime Minister Dean Barrow met with Longsworth this week to discuss the findings of the Report and decided to terminate his appointment.

CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pat Andrews indicated to the Reporter on Wednesday evening that a new Consul General will be appointed in due course. Andrews did not offer any comment when we asked if there are any other penalties that the Foreign Ministry can impose on Longsworth, considering that his term of office in New York would presumably have come to an end anyway when elections are held later this year.

The Report suggests that large quantities of monies were spent with no proper procedures followed. In the specific case of former Minister of State Longsworth, monies were seen to have been diverted from a payment from government to the Albert Committee account and to Longsworth’s personal account. Albert was the area where Longsworth was campaigning for a second term as an elected representative, but he was asked to step aside for Tracey Taegar-Panton and was promised the New York appointment. It shows that Longsworth’s Go Enterprises received payments for works at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex, but that the proper procedures were not followed, and no explanation given when the Auditor General asked for one.

At last Friday’s House Meeting, Prime Minister Dean Barrow said that experts that the offices of the Commissioner of Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will bring about criminal charges against whomever is thought to have engaged in corruption. Police Commissioner Williams has said that there can be criminal charges brought against persons following the critical Report, which was received at the Office of the Prime Minister last October.

“I have appointed an investigative team, headed by Inspector Aban. That team is working very closely with the FIU (Financial Intelligence Unit). We have obtained a number of documents that were highlighted in the Auditor General’s report and we are putting together a file and when we have put together that file it will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for her direction on the matter.”

PUP Leader, John Briceño has asked for more than that. He wants an audit done on the accounts for Longsworth’s New York mission office. Briceño is calling for a review of how many Belizean passports and visas were issued during Longsworth’s term and an accounting of where those monies went.

The office of Consul General for New York and the appointment of Longsworth came soon after category 1 Hurricane Earl caused around $10 Million in damages to Belize and people questioned the creation of such a post.

PM Barrow had explained at the time that the decision for the appointment was made before the hurricane and it came upon requests from the US Government to separate the Consular office from the Permanent Mission of Belize to the UN.

There were several other names mentioned in the Audit Report released last week, including that of former Sports Council Director, Patrick Henry who did not provide answers when he was asked about several questionable transfers of public funds, and on occasions where the monies disbursed for certain events were less than that which was allotted for those events.

There is the allegation that almost half a million dollars was embezzled by a pay clerk at the Sports Council. Auditor General, Dorothy Bradley indicated in the Report that Ivan Ayuso, who was the Senior Accounts Clerk at the Sports Council between 2015 and 2016, had “manipulated the pay sheets and may have siphoned the money into his personal accounts at three commercial banks.”

Ayuso, notably, is the person who was arrested and charged for the arson of the Paslow Building. The allegation at the time was that he was attempting to destroy evidence of monetary improprieties. He was acquitted of that charge in 2005, however. While Ayuso did visit the Paslow Building that Sunday morning, claiming to have gone to retrieve something he had left there, there was another entry space that convinced the jurors that anyone could have entered the building and burnt it down.

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