t didn’t take long for the new Executive Director of Botswana Accountancy College (BAC), Serty Leburu, to feel discomfort in her new office soon after taking over in February. To clear the air and remove all suspicions she got the Board’s approval to launch a forensic audit of the business. It will appear some in the employ of the college have had their concerns for some time and only hoped their instincts were not on overdrive. One employee said recently, “I came to a point where I had to instruct the college to pay me my gratuity every month, instead of waiting for the end of my contract. I was worried about the company’s cash flow, even at times not sure whether there would be any money to pay salaries.”
Leburu took office in February after resigning as deputy chief executive officer of Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC). Some of her new employees talk of her openness, saying she has been upfront about the status of the business. In her early days she opened up about the status of the business and reportedly called for increased cost control as she rolled her sleeves to look for alternative sources of income to ensure that the business did not fold. “She went to the extent of availing the financial accounts of the college to all staff members – close to 200 of them,” said a senior employee in the college. “I trust that woman with all my heart. She is a shrewd business woman who will work to turn things around,” said another employee. While the outcome of the forensic audit – undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers – is still awaited some sources have not shied away from claiming that millions of Pula are not accounted for.
Sources blame careless spending to have attributed to the current scenario, with some saying at some point a lot of fruitless tours to market the college and recruit students in regional countries were spent heavily on. As things worsened the College was forced to terminate its partnership with Derby University due to the expensiveness of the franchise. Sources also partly blamed the Government’s inconsistent and anti-tertiary education posture that resulted with reduced students admissions and lack of foresight taking the College forward. With reduced admissions, Government subvention also declined while the institution’s obligations remained constant.
When are forensic audits used?
Forensic audits are used wherever an entity's finances present a legal concern, according to thelawdictionary.org. For instance, it is used in cases of suspected embezzlement or fraud, to determine tax liability, to investigate a spouse during divorce proceedings or to investigate allegations of bribery, among other reasons.
“Forensic audits are performed by a class of professionals with skillsets in both criminology and accounting who specialise in following a money trail, keeping track of fraudulent and actual balance sheets and checking for inaccuracies in overall and detailed reports of income or expenditures. If they find discrepancies, it may be the auditor's job to investigate and determine the reason for it, or it may be the job of a separate financial investigator,” said thelawdictionary.org.
PriceWaterHouseCoopers have been and are current external auditors for Botswana Accountancy College (BAC). It is a norm that any organisation, from time to time, as part of Corporate Governance best practice, undergoes audits of varying types across its operations. This mentioned audit if an ongoing process towards improving our efficiencies and processes and is not focused or targeted to any specific area of operation/s or to any specific individual/s,” said Mpho Mokgosi, BAC’s Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications.
Various sources at the institution have also alluded to the involvement of Government security agents in investigations, saying that recently a number of employees had their computers searched and their mobiles impounded. Sources have insisted that with millions missing it was to be expected that security agents would pounce. In one department, the employees had their laptops impounded for a week before they could be returned. However, Mokgosi denied this, retorting: “The organisation is not aware of any missing millions. To reiterate, this audit is being conducted by our appointed external auditors (PWC) and not by State Security Agents.”
Who is Serty Leburu?
Those who worked with her talk of her as a tickler for detail and a shrewd business woman who never shies away from a challenge. She carries vast experience in management having been in executive management of businesses she has been associated with in the past 10 years. She was the Deputy Chief Executive -Support Services at Botswana Housing Corporation for about four years after having been a Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana until April 2012. She has worked in Kenya, Uganda, Thailand and attended and participated in leadership workshops, programmes and conferences in London, Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and Botswana. She cherishes two most prestigious programmes that she has been involved in being the leading across boundaries with Usaid Business School at Oxford University and the Women empowerment conference in Singapore.She has worked for Debswana for about 17 years at different technical, managerial and senior leadership levels.
While at Debswana she attended among prestigious leadership conferences the World's leaders in London conference in 2006. She considers herself expert in financial matters with broad experience in all areas of strategy, finance, governance, supplier chain, risk management, general administration and leadership, recreation and corporate real estate. She is a Board Member of the Board of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited, Botswana Human Resource Development Council and a Trustee for Sponsor a child Trust. She is the Director and owner of The Touch Holdings and is also a director for Phakalane Community Centre. Her specialties are in Strategy, Governance, Finance and Accounting, People Management and Leadership, Client Relationship Management and Liaison, and Stakeholder Engagement.