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Thursday 24 August 2017


EDITOR'S NOTE: We haven't heard from the "whistleblower", referred to as the "Anonymous Engineer", in awhile. But it is important to remember that he is the engineer who originally disclosed falsification of the estimates for the Muskrat Falls project on January 30, 2017. His revelations were described in a post entitled Muskrat Falls Estimates A Complete Falsification and a second post on February 6, 2017 called Muskrat: Allegations of Phony Cost Estimates, as well as to the CBC. Writing today, the whistleblower responds to Consumer Advocate, Dennis Browne, whose recent public comments suggest he is confusing "Forensic Audit" and "Forensic Accounting". - Des Sullivan

Guest Post by the "Anonymous Engineer" 

The letter to the Editor of the Telegram and the concurrent discussion with the journalist Pam Frampton by the Consumer Advocate Dennis Browne of August 19th, 2017 was a futile exercise in public relations.

Mr. Browne did not say anything that the public had not already heard from Premier Ball, Minister Coady and CEO Stan Marshall. At least there is one remarkable element of consistency – they are all singing from the same sheet of music, which no one believes.

What was missing, as always, is the credible action plan.

Dennis Browne
The quote from Dennis Browne in the Telegram reads:

“This is beyond forensic accounting. This requires a full, open process that citizens can participate in. Anything less would be a disservice to the people of this province. The public needs to hear what went on here. I urge a full public inquiry presided over by a senior justice of our Supreme Court.” 

A full judicial inquiry is beyond doubt the Gold Standard  – the limitation is, in all likelihood, it will never get done. Committing to a plan that is completely open ended, without any commitment to implementation is deceitful. Most people by now can see through this. The lack of credibility is absolute.

Also by stating that “This is beyond forensic accounting,” Dennis Browne is demonstrating a lack of understanding of the process of Forensic Audits.

Forensic Accounting is enormously different than Forensic Auditing.

Forensic Accounting is the investigation of illegitimate financial transactions, while Forensic Auditing is the analysis of the sequence of events and the process of decision making.

How could the Consumer Advocate knowledgeably address anything about audits if he does not know the difference?

A Forensic Audit will investigate the process of decision making and who made what decisions and uncover any evidence of wrongdoing. The scope of the Forensic Audit is simple and precise.

It will inquire as to why the estimates were so low and substandard, how they got approved, and what was the process of project sanction.

Ed Martin, Gilbert Bennett and Paul Harrington should be able to provide the answers.

The process is very simple and straightforward. If it transpires that there is evidence of wrongdoing, then a judicial investigation is warranted, which obviously has a much larger scope and authority.

It is much better to perform a Forensic Audit immediately and establish criteria for further investigation, than to wait forever for a judicial inquiry that may never happen.
The Consumer Advocate obviously knows this.

The most important question is how soon an inquiry can be called. 

This question has been asked many times over.

If we wait until construction is over, including commissioning, then we are looking at about 2020 or 2021.  Add about another one year for the formulation of a Judicial Committee. The earliest an inquiry can start will be in 2022 – five years away. By then, there is no guarantee that Dennis Browne will be Consumer Advocate, or Dwight Ball will be Premier. The whole Judicial Inquiry could easily be forgotten.

This is just an attempt to delay an inquiry as long as possible, or better, not do one at all.

And, anyway, of what use would an inquiry be ten years after project sanction? 

Nalcor CEO Stan Marshall sees an inquiry as inevitable and the best way to get at the facts, but he thinks it’s in the best interests of the province to wait until the project is done.
“When the project is done there will be time (for an inquiry),” he said, and added cryptically, “I don’t think all the answers you’re looking for are necessarily in this building.” 

Stan Marshall, together with Minister Coady are never in favour of an Audit of any kind. Though they say they support an Audit, their actions are expressly to the contrary. In five years from now, who knows where they will be.

It is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that no one in authority wants a Forensic Audit. Not the AG, not the Consumer Advocate, not Minister Coady, not Stan Marshall and not the Premier. 

At least they are consistent – united in their resistance to the truth and obstruction to the process of discovery.

There must be a Forensic Audit now.