Two officials from a delegation of the Health Department of Mendoza were sanctioned for over $200,000 after the provincial Court of Auditors detected irregularities with 140 checks that were issued and collected by that same office, but which were not settled in any accounting record.
The Mendoza state watchdog pressed charges against the Coordinator of the Health Department in General Alvear, Sergio Aguero, and against the Administrator of that same office, Carlos Astudillo, who were given a period of 30 days from the notification of failure, to deposit $200,920 in an account of the National Bank. Failure to meet this obligation in the given period, these employees would be obligated to respond with their own funds. Also, because of the accumulation of wrongdoings, they were also given a fine of $5000 pesos each.
All of these sanctions were applied after the reports written by the Court of General Alvear of the State of Mendoza published them in their health portfolio in 2010.
According to the watchdog, "the fine is applied because of various irregularities that occurred in different bank accounts belonging to the Agency". The document warned of at least 103 checks that belonged to the same checking account, number: 26600123-32 that were issued and cashed but were never reported in the passbook. A passbook is where officials report in chronological order all the transactions, like deposits and withdrawals, and then compare that information with data from the bank.
The money was issued between July 28th, 2009 and December 30th, 2010, and the amounts go from $7.14 (yes, seven dollars and fourteen cents), to $7,132.75 and add up to a total of $94,609.30.
Furthermore, with that same account, another stunt was pulled. There was one deposit that was in fact written in the passbook, for a total of $1,707.50, however this time the money never actually entered the bank. And that is not all. This plot can also be seen in two other bank accounts.
The first case is about a check issued from an account number 26600115-29 for a total of $12,848.59 that was cashed but was never registered in the passbook.
The second finding was with the account 26600459-89, where the same operation is repeated with 41 checks, issued between December 4th, 2009 through December 31st, 2010, for amounts between $120.83 and $7,063.40, totaling $42,482.10.
None of these values were entered in the passbook of The General Alvear delegation of the Ministry of Health in Mendoza, "representing a possible unjustified outlay", states the Court of Auditors. All of the operations total $151,747.49 pesos. If we add the interests specified in the state law, the amount would rise to a total of $200,920.00, which is the amount of money that, according to the federal watchdog ruling, the Coordinator and Office Manager must replace.
Parallel to the charges, the Court of Auditors of Mendoza fined the two officers, Aguero and Astudillo, $5000 pesos each.
According to the watchdog ruling, this sanction is because of "the existence of checks issued and not paid to the bank for $ 15.822.13, $ 4,577.47 and $ 1,421, which at the date of the audit had not been charged. Those responsible must provide the necessary documentation to prove whether the checks were delivered as payment or if they were made and not delivered. Therefore, in the absence of certainty about the fate of those amounts, the Court will not release from liability the penalized officials to the possibility that the checks are cashed and this entails a loss to the exchequer. It also instructs them to report to the Bank the amount of checks and their values, to the effect that, they will not be extended by the bank”.
Ultimately, the Court found "lack of explanation of the origin of funds deposited for $42,726.75, differences in accounting books, errors in financial equations, and a lack of reconciliation of balances in some accounts."
It was with these findings that the federal watchdog based the fines upon.