PUC fires back at media one month later

By Marion Ali
Assistant Editor

This week, Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Chairman, John Avery fired back at the media who reported last month on exorbitant spending that the PUC had purportedly been doing, specifically for the March 2017 fiscal year. The reports were made based on a letter of representation and a draft audit report which were said to have been written by PUC auditor, Cedric Flowers. In rejecting the media’s reports, Avery said the leaked documents did not reflect the true figures spent on PUC business because they were not the final audit report.

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Avery shared a copy of the final document, conducted by PUC auditor, Cedric Flowers, which he used to bolster his position.

Avery went one step further to blame the leakage of the incomplete figures on a PUC employee who was assigned to work with the auditor. That person, he said, did not have access to the official minutes for PUC meetings.
“Many media houses claim that they had letters that our auditor wrote to the Prime Minister. Many of them called me and I told them that was not so, but they still went ahead and said that. None of them questioned the source of the so-called documents that they had and basically said those documents were related to an audit being conducted by our auditor. If any of them had taken just the time to click on those files – go to the properties – you would have seen who the author of those documents were and it wasn’t the auditor,” he responded indignantly.

Avery explained how the files were lifted. “The PUC doesn’t keep any records on Excel. That person took – had access to our computerized records and took the information off and put it in an Excel file and manipulated that to tell the story he wanted to tell.”

The PUC Chairman did say, however, that some of the figures were correct that were circulated. “I’m not saying that some of the figures…in the details aren’t accurate, but I’m saying I can’t verify them; we don’t know. But clearly that person manipulated those to tell a particular story,” Avery concluded.
For clarification, the Reporter tried twice to reach Avery last month for a comment over the allegations of reckless spending, but we were told that he was unavailable. Our request for a copy of the final audit report came this week, when the PUC responded to the media reports.

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