Big Bucks in Cuba’s Garbage Scams
By Pilar Montes
HAVANA TIMES — The accounting department of Cuba’s garbage collection services is clearly riddled with cracks that high officials in the sector take advantage of.
Auditing mechanisms have once again revealed acts of misappropriation that, between 2012 and early 2014, diverted 9,408,263 Cuban pesos (over US $ 470,000) to officials at the Boyeros Garbage Collection Department, the Municipal Finance and Prices Bureau and the Accounts Management Center in the same Havana municipality.
Sometimes, I feel that if the Comptroller General’s Office had not been created Cubans would never have found out about the bottomless pit of corruption that sucks in what little we have.
“An audit conducted by the Provincial Administrative Council of La Habana, supervised by the Comptroller General’s Office, reviewed cash withdrawals made for wage, vacation and subsidy payments, as well as the checks issued for the operations over the period in question,” Cuba’s Granma newspaper reported on October 16.
Workers at this entity were directly affected by these illicit withdrawals, were not provided with the gear needed for their work. Needless to say, area residents also suffered a generalized lack of hygiene in the capital’s municipality of Boyeros.
Six officials accused of misappropriation, the falsification of bank and commercial documents and failing to protect the assets of State entities were fined and sentenced to one to ten years in prison.
An article titled “Overdrawing with Impunity” points out that the juiciest takings were those of the vice-head of the commercial department, sentenced in absentia, as she left the country before the audit undertaken by the authorities.
However, the municipal director of the Finance and Prices Bureau, who illicitly assigned the equivalent of US $200,000 over the budget allotted, is no less to blame.
I would like to join the author of the article (who underscores that these activities went on for nearly two years) in his concerns, as the trial of these individuals took place in January of 2015 and was only made public 10 months after they were convicted.
What’s more, this is anything but an isolated occurrence. We must not forget another similar incident in Old Havana that probably began before 2012.
At the time, the Provincial Administrative Bureau and Comptroller General’s Office implemented an action plan aimed at preventing similar crimes. The nearly fortuitous uncovering of the Boyeros case confirmed this.
Combatting this kind of financial crime and illicit practices is the Comptroller General’s Office, an institution I believe the State and all honest persons should support.
In addition to controls and regulations, we also have the greatest weapon of all, the press, with which we should report on, without so much delay, all of the facts as they are known, all of the acts of corruption and measures taken against the guilty.
Because the guilty and those sentenced have a first and last name.