Winston Thompson must go: Chaudhry

  • 26th June 2020
  • 2020
  • // Display comment count + link

USP Pro-Chancellor Winston Thompson must step down forthwith as he has lost the confidence of the USP Council, and the students and staff of the university, says FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

“Professional accountability demands that Mr Thompson as one of the main instigators of the unsuccessful move to suspend the Vice Chancellor, resigns.     

“He now maintains he can work with the Vice Chancellor even though he says that he does not agree with the Council’s decision to reinstate him. How can this be possible? It cannot be business as usual at the university” Mr. Chaudhry said. (FT 23/6)

He also questioned Mr Thompson’s statement that the BDO Report was “now history”.

The BDO report substantiates serious issues raised by Prof Ahluwalia
regarding governance and alleged corrupt practices, including huge overpayments to certain staff members well above their salary bands.

“We note that a committee was appointed to deal with these issues. However, to date we don’t see evidence of any corrective measures taken to address these malpractices in regard to the beneficiaries of such fraudulent payments,” said Mr Chaudhry.

Mr Thompson’s conduct has resulted in Fiji being viewed unfavourably by our Pacific neighbours with the Samoan PM leading the charge for his removal.

Thompson must also explain why he commissioned a $60,000 report by the accounting firm of KPMG into USP’s finances at a time when the university was facing serious financial constraints. The findings of the report have never been disclosed. Prof Ahluwalia questions Thompson’s motive in instigating the report and claims Thompson stepped outside his “jurisdictional boundaries” in doing so (Islands Business facebook 18 June).

“USP needs a thorough clean up. The BDO Report is now in the public domain and people are demanding action from those in authority at USP to ensure that those who corruptly benefited are held accountable,” said Mr Chaudhry.

According to the BDO report, USP’s internal audit service provider had been raising some of these payroll and HR issues over the past few years. Yet, no action was taken to address these malpractices.

“This means that those who are seen to be condoning such practices by being obstructive and brushing them under the carpet, must also go,” said Mr Chaudhry.

USP students are justifiably incensed at these disclosures because they are being forced to pay exorbitant tuition fees to sustain corrupt practices at USP. It is understandable that they should now demand complete transparency and accountability from those in authority.