Monday, November 24, 2008

New GAO report on USAID program

The Government Accountability Office has issued another report on USAID’s Cuba democracy programs, finding that while financial controls have improved, the agency’s “ability to ensure the appropriate use of grant funds remains in question.”

The report sheds light on the case of Felipe Sixto, the White House employee who had worked at a USAID grantee, the Center for a Free Cuba. Last March, amid reports that Sixto had defrauded the program of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the White House commented that Sixto “allegedly had a conflict of interest with the use of USAID funds.”

Today’s report (here, pdf) explains: “According to a USAID memorandum, from late 2004 through January 2008, [Sixto] used companies that he controlled to sell shortwave radios to CFC at inflated prices, pocketing the difference.” The report says that USAID has recovered “$578,810 in project funds and interest of $67,992, which will be returned to the Department of the Treasury.” The report does not specify if all of Sixto’s apparent kickbacks derived from radio purchases, or if other kinds of transactions were involved.

AP coverage here.

No comments: