Specialized skills needed to combat oil & gas corruption – Fraud Expert

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Stephon Grey, Executive Director of the Caribbean Institute of Forensic Accounting (CIFA)

Fraud Audits and Fraud Deterrence capabilities are necessary skills that should be invested in by the Government of Guyana as it continues its rapid push to build a successful oil and gas industry, based on transparency and accountability.

This is according to Executive Director of the Caribbean Institute of Forensic Accounting (CIFA), Stephon Grey, who spoke with OilNOW following the opening session of a two-day seminar on oil and gas in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, on Thursday.  The symposium, focusing on public corruption and the oil curse, was organized by the Guyana Oil & Gas Association, CIFA and the African Business Round Table.

Stressing on the need for specialized skills and competent institutions, Grey said, “With the different oil companies and oil blocks that will be given out you will have a taxation regime and your tax auditors need to be trained in specialized audits of those things. You will also have joint venture audits that will be implemented or should be implemented. You may have allegations of corruption…that will require that skills (to address this) be upgraded.”

He also pointed out that there will be oil and gas contracts that may be “baffling to normal minds” that will require intense analysis, and therefore, it is imperative that the Government invest in higher levels of training for its people to match the demands of the sector.

Forensic Accounts, he pointed out, will guard the Government against potential risks in the industry. “Once they find potential loopholes as in any good audit report, there will be recommendations and once those recommendations are narrated from a Government point of view, there should be implementation, and from that, monitoring,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Forensic Accounting Expert said the Government must also learn from the experiences of other territories and countries, namely Alaska and Norway. He said like these locations, Guyana must redeploy its resources and diversify the economy in order to avoid a heavy dependence on the oil and gas sector.

He added, “Case in point, Trinidad has not really done that to an extent. So much so that the first year of the recession we have seen a lot of taxes being drawn forth, a clear indication that diversification has not taken place. So, you need to take some of that oil and gas money and create other sectors that will generate money as well because remember, the oil and gas is subject to price fluctuations. Three years ago, we were probably at 114 dollars a barrel, now we are down to 50 dollars a barrel. It could go lower.”

Grey is a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified Internal Control Auditor and Forensic CPA Educator. His expertise has been acknowledged regionally and internationally through the performance and management of numerous assignments for clients in territories including Thailand, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Barbados, St. Kitts, Suriname, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Columbia, Miami and New York.