By Marion Ali
For the second time in less than 12 months, the Belize Postal Service is recovering from a scandal in which two of its employees are involved in missing money collected from people who send express mail abroad.
The latest incident was discovered on Thursday, December 10th, and involves a second class clerk, who is alleged to have embezzled around $10,000 between October and November 2015 – the busiest time of the year for the postal service.
The theft occurred in the Express Mail Service (EMS) and is said to have happened when the person in charge failed to follow certain procedures implemented after the last incident in the early part of 2015 at the same unit.
The supervisor whose duty is was to do a physical check to ensure that the male clerk’s receipts matched the cash collected, failed to do this.
Ironically, the clerk now in question was the same person who discovered that the previous cashier doing the same job had been doing something out of the ordinary.
Deputy Postmaster General, James Gabriel told the Reporter on Tuesday that a report has been filed with the Chief Executive Officer in the relevant Ministry, Ruth Meighan, who will forward the information to the Public Services Commission (PSC) and will also decide whether the male clerk will face a criminal investigation by police.
The clerk, who has been with the postal service for the past seven years, has since been transferred to the parcel post unit but has not been given any tasks until a determination is made as to his fate. Gabriel declared that he is now under close monitoring with surveillance cameras to watch his every move.
The clerk in question, a 32 year-old man from Orange Walk, took over the post of cashier in the EMS in May of this year, replacing the previous cashier, Passion Bennett Dougal, who had been conducting the same kind of accounting, or the lack thereof, in order to cover up misappropriation. In that case, the amount that had gone missing was around $20,000, over a five-month period.
Gabriel explained that the new measures put in place requires the cashier on duty to make written copies of each transaction for reference, but that the new man had “dismissed the entire process”. “We know exactly what took place”, Gabriel said.
Gabriel also shared that the Postmaster General, Elston Wade, is looking at the incident closely, and will decide what measures to take against the supervisor who failed to carry out a check of the clerk’s transactions.
He indicated that in a meeting on Monday, the post office’s Finance Officer, Carolyn Baptist, reviewed the entire process and was satisfied that measures are now being enforced.
In the previous incident earlier this year, the cashier, Passion Bennett Dougal absconded to the United States after she allegedly misappropriated more than $20,000 between January and May. Police intelligence determined she left Belize the same day they had intended to detain her during a criminal investigation.
She had asked for and had been given time off to take care of a “personal matter”, but never showed up again.