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Forensic auditor reviewing Mile One books

Mile One Centre Ñ Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Mile One Centre Ñ Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

The City of St. John’s is looking deeper into the books of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment after the discovery of something awry in the organization’s accounts, The Telegram has learned.

St. John’s Sports and Entertainment (SJSE) oversees the operation of Mile One Centre and the St. John’s Convention Centre.

“I can confirm that yes, on paper, we found an amount of money missing. But it’s really, really early in the investigation to go into any details whatsoever,” said Coun. Sandy Hickman, who has spent the last year and a half as council representative on the SJSE board and was contacted about what had been reported to The Telegram as missing money.

“We have already had our accounting staff have a good look at it and it (something not adding up) is there. All of a sudden, yeah, there’s something there, but we are going to go further and have our city internal auditor — who, of course, never would have been involved — maybe he’ll see something we’re not seeing, our staff are not seeing,” Hickman said.

The city’s internal auditor is a certified fraud examiner. He conducts reviews for the city much like the provincial auditor general might do for the province.

“So it’s something we’re trying to figure out. Was there a fraud involved? There’s a good chance there was, but we don’t really know because we want to include this investigation before we come to any conclusions,” Hickman said.

He added he was disappointed with word of the investigation going public, telling The Telegram he believed it could compromise the process and potentially any future legal action.

As for the amount involved, while the tip to The Telegram included a figure, Hickman would not go into any detail.

“It could be a not-insignificant amounts of money,” he said, adding, “but we’re not talking millions.”

If the forensic auditor finds reason to believe there was fraud involved, he said the file would be passed to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

St. John’s Sports and Entertainment is required to provide financial reports to the city. Hickman said the annual report for 2016 has been completed, but he was not sure if it had yet been provided to city hall.

 

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

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