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Pressure on Wasteserv auditors

It was somewhat ironic and strange, to say the least,  that Alan Caruana, the former head of secretariat of the Minister of Finance (and now a top consultant within the same ministry) and his own minister both chose to keep mum after I disclosed a letter by auditing firm BDO.

The letter claimed that Mr Caruana had brought pressure to bear on them in connection with Wasteserv’s 2010 audited accounts.

The minister responsible for Wasteserv operations – George Pullicino – has chosen to come to the rescue of Mr Caruana in his regular Blogtime column in The Times. He did so by stating categorically that it was not true that pressure was placed on the company to alter their assessment of the company’s finances.

Does this imply that the BDO letter to Wasteserv and the Finance Minister of January 4, 2012 was fabricated?

If no pressure was brought to bear on them, what could have triggered them to commit themselves in writing to complain in the following manner?

“During a meeting that revolved around the basis for the auditors’ qualified opinion of the annual audit of Wasteserv Malta Ltd, in the course of a 90- minute meeting, he (Mr Caruana) opted to focus mainly on putting in doubt and questioning the integrity of the expressed opinion of BDO Malta as auditors.

“Coming from a top executive of the major shareholder of the company, to whom our auditors’ report is addressed, we must express our total disagreement to this highly unethical approach to the issue at hand and to which we have constantly referred to in our three years that we have held office, both in our management letters as well as our auditors’ report.”

Further on, the same auditors went on record stating the following in the same letter:

“During the meeting, we were requested to inform management, in writing, up to what level of comfort we were prepared to accept in order to re-assess our opinion... We consider this behaviour a threat to our independence as auditors by irresponsibly pressuring our firm to change our opinion.

“By putting in question our professional advice in the implementation of the re-classification carried out and threatening legal advice on the issue, the representative of the majority shareholder is trying to influence our position with respect to the qualified basis of opinion...”

In the light of these damning statements, does the Resources Minister still think that my allegations were totally unfounded?

They were merely based on documentary evidence that I have long had in hand.

Incidentally, the full text of the BDO letter was published by the Labour Party as an attachment to my media release.

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