The mystery of the $400,000 cheque

Business

The mystery of the $400,000 cheque

Sunday, May 31, 2020

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Dear Claudienne

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I am having a serious problem with the Accountant General's Department (AGD), and I am asking for your assistance in this matter.

I was a community health aide for 17 years, and my years of service spanned from October 1994 to March 2012 when I retired. I was to receive a lump sum pension payment, and I received a portion of it via a cheque for $300,000 from the AGD .

I kept waiting for years to receive the next lump sum payment of my pension, but did not get it.

Eventually I was advised to go to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to find out why I was not paid the additional amount of money. When I went to the MOF I was told that the additional amount of $400,000 that I should have received had been sent to the AGD.

In 2019 when my life certificate was late in reaching the AGD, and I did not receive my monthly pension, I went to the AGD's office. I spoke to a senior officer (MW) and told her that I had not received the second payment of $400,000 that the MOF said they had sent to the AGD for me.

I took my bank book that I had been using when I received the first payment and showed it to MW so that she could see that I did not receive the additional $400,000 from the AGD.

When MW checked the records she told me that she saw where a cheque for $400,000 was sent to me. However, I did not get it. When I asked MW what was going to happen in respect of the $400,000 I had not received, she said I would have to get same, but it would take a long time.

It is now over one year and I have heard nothing from the AG.

I am 67 years old and I have a child going to school. I also pay rent. I worked very hard as a health aide, and I need to know when I will be paid the $400,000 by the AG. I also believe that the AG should pay me interest on this money.

I am requesting your assistance in this matter.

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AH

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Dear AH

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Tell Claudienne has been in communication with the AGD's Communication and Customer Relations Unit about your concerns since December 3, 2019.

The column was told that the AGD's records showed that the cheque for $400,000 that had been sent to you had been encashed. The Communication and Customer Relations Unit said that the AGD had requested a copy of the cheque from National Commercial Bank (NCB) and was awaiting its arrival.

On April 15, 2020 Tell Claudienne was told that NCB had informed the AGD that that they do not keep cheques for more than seven years, and therefore could not locate the cheque. The spokesperson for the Communication and Customer Relations Unit informed Tell Claudienne that the next step would be for the AGD to investigate whether the cheque was sent to you by registered mail, and if it had been sent to you, who had signed for it. She also said that the matter would have to be reported to the fraud squad.

Meanwhile , Tell Claudienne was informed by a government auditor that the mystery surrounding the $400,000 cheque that was sent to you and which you allege you have not received and which the office of the accountant general states has been encashed, can be cleared up quickly.

According to the government auditor, the AGD did not have to wait on information from NCB to determine what has happened to the cheque.

The auditor said the AGD could take the following steps to locate the information quickly:

“1. The accountant general's bank reconciliation for the years 2012 and 2013 will show when the cheque was cashed at the NCB, etc.

2. The bank reconciliation will reveal whether the cheque was cashed or missing!

a) If the cheque was cashed and the AGD cannot locate it big problem! Who cashed that cheque? The bank security system should be able to reveal that information [since] the NCB said they don't keep copies of cheques over seven years.

(b) If the cheque was uncashed/ lost somewhere, the AGD bank reconciliation would have revealed that information.

3. If the cheque was cashed (the cashed cheque will be returned to the AGD and) the following details will be on the cheque:

a) Signature of the person who cashed the cheque, date and time, and where it was cashed (branch of NCB)

4. If the cheque is missing for more than a year, the bank reconciliation will reveal this information.

The accountant general's income and expenditure statement for the years 2012-2013 (profit and loss statement) will not balance without the notation of the cheque being either cashed or outstanding.

That is the smartest way of locating that cheque if NCB said the cheque was cashed in 2012.

The AGD can do all these searches simultaneously, while they are researching the postal details.”

Tell Claudienne sent the guidelines the government auditor suggested for solving the missing $400,000 mystery expeditiously to the Communication and Customer Relations Unit spokesperson on May 11, 2020. The guidelines were also sent to the acting accountant general.

On Tuesday, May 26, 2020 the AGD informed Tell Claudienne that a letter was being sent to you by registered mail. Tell Claudienne requested that the AGD update you of their findings by telephone, and we note that they telephoned you the following day (Wednesday, May 27, 2020).

On Wednesday, May 27, 2020 Tell Claudienne received a copy of the letter that the AGD director of communications and customer relations sent you by registered mail.

The section of the letter in reference to the cheque reads as follows:

“The department can confirm that a cheque in the sum of $400,933.90, being the advance on your pension, was prepared and forwarded by registered mail #xxxx to the address...on September 21, 2012. Our records also indicate that the cheque was negotiated at an NCB bank in Linstead on October 16, 2012.

Enclosed is a copy of the returned negotiated cheque for your reference.

We thank you for your patience and we remain available for any further questions or concerns you may have.”

Please make a report to the police when you get the letter. Please also take the letter to the NCB branch in Linstead, as you might be able to get additional information from the branch about the cheque.

We wish you all the best.

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FRUSTRATIONS WITH FLOW

Dear Claudienne

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I live in Portmore.

Since May 2, 2020 I have not been able to access the Flow cable box with the remote control unit. The box is not switching on.

I finally got in touch with someone in the Communications Department at Flow and outlined the problem, and was told that a technician would be sent to my location within 24 to 48 hours. However, today is May 20, and I have not seen a technician nor have I received a follow-up call from Flow.

Please assist as best as possible as I do not expect to pay for services I did not receive.

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MC

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Dear MC

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Tell Claudienne contacted Flow and notes that you informed the column on May 27 that a technician has visited your home and fixed the problem.

We wish you all the best.

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Have a problem with a store, utility, a company? Telephone 936-9436 or write to: Tell Claudienne c/o Sunday Finance, Jamaica Observer, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; or e-mail: edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com . Please include a contact phone number.

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