Ezemvelo cash ‘not missing’

2007-12-01 00:00

THE Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife board said yesterday that R22 million allocated for special wildlife projects was not unaccounted for, it was just not recorded on the annual financial statement.

The entire Ezemvelo board has been relieved of its accounting responsibilities by KZN Environmental Affairs MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu pending the completion of a forensic investigation into the unaccounted for R22 million.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday at the Ezemvelo headquarters, board chairman Patrick Sokhela said the board will continue to perform its fiduciary and oversight functions in line with its mandate under the KZN Nature Conservation Management Act.

On Monday, Mthimkhulu ordered a forensic investigation into Ezemvelo following revelations of alleged financial irregularities and an adverse audit report.

The forensic audit will be conducted by Deloitte and Touche.

The allegations of mismangement cover misuse of corporate credit cards, supply chain management issues, personnel, company houses, corporate government, and revenue collected and sources of revenue.

Sokhela said in the 2006/2007 annual financial statements, Ezemvelo was issued with an adverse report, following a qualified report in 2005/2006.

“It is important to note that an adverse report is issued when the auditors determine that the financial statements of an entity are materially mis-stated.

This as opposed to a qualified report, where the auditors encounter situations that do not comply with general accepted accounting principles,” he said.

He also said that all other records are complete.

Sokhela said the reason for change and the adverse opinion was that R22 million that was held by the board for “special projects” under Ezemvelo’s Project Unit was not recorded in the financial statements.

Sokhela insisted yesterday that it was not true that the R22 million in question is unaccounted for, as the money was to be used for various projects, including poverty alleviation and invasive alien plant clearance, among other things.

Sokhela said the board will be fully supportive of Mthimkhulu’s initiatives to conduct the forensic investigation and will fully co-operate with the process.

Mthimkhulu’s department allocates R300 million to Ezemvelo annually.

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