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Letter: Arson is not just a problem in the Caribbean, but it is a Caribbean problem
Published on May 12, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Usually arson in government buildings and ministries is set or caused to be set by someone in the ruling government party, someone or some group that wants to destroy records, before records destroy them.

You may have noticed its always claimed to be an act of terrorism, an act committed by the opposition, by anyone except themselves.

Setting this type of fire is older than financial history itself.

A suspicious fire has happened in St Vincent as well, a fire at the financial complex. Said to be caused by a defective fan. A huge number of records destroyed in filing cabinets.

Oct 2011, Fire in Prime Ministers Office building in St Vincent.
[fire broke out on Saturday in the Finance Complex, the building that house the Office of the Prime Minister]

It’s quite amazing that whenever these fires happen it’s always in the ministry of finance or some accounting department holding financial records. And it’s more than often in countries that are in financial difficulty.

1996, Guyana, Ministry of Public Works and Communications accounts department was destroyed during an audit there in February 1996.

1998, Guyana, Ministry of Finance building and records destroyed in a fire claimed to be arson

1999, Guyana, Ministry of Finance, records destroyed in a fire claimed to be arson.

1999, Guyana, Ministry of Education, Finance Department, records destroyed in a fire claimed to be arson.

May, 2001, Guyana, Ministry of Agriculture, Finance Department, records destroyed in a fire claimed to be arson.

June, 2001, Guyana, Ministry of Housing, Planning and Finance department, records destroyed in a fire claimed to be arson.

1996 to 2009, Guyana, almost every ministry office and their records have been destroyed by arson at some time during this period.

Mar 2010, St Thomas, Lottery Offices destroyed by arson and financial records destroyed, some of the cash in the safe missing.

June 2011, Ministry of Finance building on fire in Athens, Greece.

Jan 2014, St. Kitts and Nevis, The third arson attack at a government office. The treasury department included the destruction of records of the Inland Revenue tax collection destroyed, also important government financial records and computers holding the same records.

It’s the same in industry, when times get financially hard, when incriminating records need to be destroyed, fires are common in the accountant’s office and stock rooms.

June 2012, Fire at the offices and aircraft hanger of LIAT, financial records and stock lost, including 2 Dash aircraft.

I remember whilst working in London, I came across a corporation in-house accountant that bragged that he was so busy he hadn’t taken a holiday or a day off in 15 years. I insisted that he took a holiday, when he returned he was charged with embezzlement going back at least seven years; he ended up in prison.

According to the United States Fire Administration, in the United States there were approximately 31,000 fires caused by arson in 2006, resulting in losses of $755 million.

Back to Caribbean government fraud and arson. What we should be looking closely at in the Caribbean are ministers that are afraid to demit office, afraid of the ensuing investigations into finances and impropriety. Those prime ministers that cling to power should be a future target for intense investigation, that is if there are any records left to investigate after all the arson that has become prevalent in Caribbean financial departments.

There may be a danger from those politicians that want to cling to power, because perhaps there has been some cooking of the books, some nasties to hide, a little fraud here, a lot of fraud there. They will stop at nothing, because if they cook the books a little election fraud will come as a second nature, anything is better than a holiday at Her Majesty's pleasure.

Peter Binose
Reads: 8533

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Peter Binose:

This was very relevant in 2014 and even more so in in 2016.


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