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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Punjab: In crosshairs of Akal Takht probe, SGPC’s internal audit team

According to the probe report, detecting the scandal just needed routine internal audit of the publication department that was part of job assigned to S S Kohli and Associates, the auditing firm.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar | August 24, 2020 11:51:38 pm
Sheena bora murder case, Shyamvar Rai, sheena bora murder case approver Shyamvar Rai bail, Shyamvar Rai bail rejected, indian express newsBattling with the coronavirus, he was admitted at Fortis Hospital in Mohali. (Representational)

The probe ordered by Akal Takht last month into the functioning of SGPC’s publications department has raised questions about the Sikh body’s internal audit team.

According to the probe report, detecting the scandal just needed routine internal audit of the publication department that was part of job assigned to S S Kohli and Associates, the auditing firm.

“There is tempering with the ledgers and it has been also found that no audit was conducted since 2016,” reads the probe report.

Controversial audit firm

The SGPC had hired S S Kohli and Associates for Rs 3.5 lakh per month on January 15, 2009 for computerisation of SGPC’s audit record and annual internal audit. Kohli has remained a target of political opponents of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal from the very first day as he is considered close to Badal family.

Punjab Human Rights Organisation spokesman Sarbjit Singh Verka had appeared before the probe committee formed by the Akal Takht. In his statement to the probe panel, he claimed: “Kohli was looking after the audit of Sukhbir Singh Badal’s companies and it was the reason that Kohli was given contract for SGPC audit. He has been paid more than Rs 10 crore in last 10 years and he was not even conducting basic audit of record since 2016. It was criminal negligence.”

In July, 2018, Harpal Singh, owner of a chartered accountancy firm hired by the Punjab government for external audit of the SGPC, had written a lengthy letter to SGPC president regarding irregularities in the internal audit mechanism of SGPC. He had also accused an SGPC secretary for acting like an employee of Kohli’s firm.

Harpal Singh had alleged that SGPC employees and internal audit team did not properly cooperate and also many required files were not produced for SGPC’s external audit as mandatory under the Gurudwara Act.

In 2014, Kohli’s firm was sacked for alleged misuse of power by then SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar. However, he was reinstated a day later.

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