USVI governor describes request for finance authority audits as outrageous

ST THOMAS, USVI — Governor John de Jongh on Wednesday dismissed claims made by some members of the US Virgin Islands Legislature that funds managed by the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority are not properly accounted for. The governor said he was sorry to see the territory’s lawmaking body act on untrue and unwarranted assertions to justify an audit of the PFA.

USVI Governor John de Jongh
USVI Governor John de Jongh

“The generalization of their statements are irresponsible and without foundation, especially given the absence of any specific indication of what they are trying to determine,” de Jongh said of Senator Terrence Nelson, who put forward a motion calling for the audit, and Finance Committee chairman Senator Clifford Graham, who requested Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt initiate the audit process.

The statements from Nelson and Graham include fictional claims that money secured by the PFA has disappeared in the hands of private entities and that all funds managed by the Authority have not been properly accounted for.

“Our bond documents are online, we have annual audits conducted by independent auditors, we respond to inquiries, as noted by the press, and PFA only issues bonds after receiving legislative approval and only for the specific purpose for which approval was given,” the governor explained.

PFA executive director Angel Dawson said the motives given to justify an audit are puzzling. “We are always completely transparent with the Virgin Islands Legislature and the public when we borrow money for the territory to fund vital public projects. The 30th Legislature has always been provided a full list of our projects and the sources from which they are funded.”

De Jongh stressed that every senator has access to all information relevant to PFA funding.

“It is unfortunate that the Senators are asking for and relying on an audit just because they do not want to spend the time to review the PFA documentation and then have a discussion with us,” de Jongh said. “The PFA, even in these most difficult of economic times, has maintained its access to the capital market and investors to meet the financing needs of the territory. This could only be achieved based on a strong history of credibility and accountability.”

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