Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Auditor hid $31M loss from HCU for "greater good"

Chanka Seeterram
Auditor Chanka Seeterram testified on Tuesday that he altered financial statements of the Hindu Credit Union's (HCU) to hide a $31 million loss. He said it was a private decision made to protect the company and was for "the greater good".

Seeterram told the CLICO/HCU enquiry the loss resulted from a revaluation of property.

Here is a transcript of a part of what transpired between Seeterram and the commission's junior counsel, Marion Smith: (source: Trinidad Express)

SEETERRAM: I think this was done by management probably deliberately in the sense that if that loss was worked into the accounts in the current year the net surplus of $6 million would have ended up in a $25 million deficit.

SMITH: So management deliberately in your view put it where we see it at Page 466.

SEETERRAM: I would have to say yes.

SMITH: But what is your opinion, because you are the auditor, part of your task isn't it to assess that sort of decision?


SMITH: And to assess the validity of that approach.


SMITH: So I ask again, did you carry out that sort of assessment?

SEETERRAM: This was a very delicate matter that I had to decide upon, in that the Hindu Credit Union at that point in time was experiencing a run. We were in 2006 and it was instilling numerous problems where people were demanding funds and what not.

If this account had reflected a loss for the current year I thought they felt that there would definitely be a run of some magnitude that they could not sustain whatsoever.

I insisted that it had to be brought into the accounts regardless of the fact that the loss occurred in 2006.

I felt very strongly that it had to come into the 2005 accounts and they felt the only way possible is that since there were retained earnings in there maybe it could be shown as a prior year adjustment in there.

This was what I called a compromise in the understanding that it would possibly buy some time for Hindu Credit Union to get their act together to be able to do what they thought was necessary to turn around the company because I felt if this was shown in the profit and loss account ... to show this massive loss inside there ... they could not face the outcome.

SMITH: Let's be clear Mr Seeterram, it should not be there.

SMITH: Your concern was that if you insisted upon that (including the $31 million loss in the profit and loss account) that would have been the end of the HCU.

SEETERRAM: I was looking at the bigger picture, yes.
..."What I felt is that the management needed some time to check their options that were available. And the options that were available was that the way the HCU was going at the time they could not continue and they needed external help and they needed to buy some time to get that help." 

Seeterram said he advised the HCU to seek assistance from the State to correct the financial difficulties.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
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