Wednesday, 24 April 2019 16:42

TransPark gets rough audit as former director runs for Congress

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RALEIGH — A scathing report from N.C. State Auditor Beth Wood released Wednesday, April 24, found the accounting methods used by the N.C. Global TransPark Authority were so bad that “fraud could occur and go undetected.”

The executive director of the GTP during the audit period, Allen Thomas, is a Democratic primary candidate for the open seat in the 3rd U.S. Congressional District. Early voting is under way for the April 30 primary.

The audit covered the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018. Thomas became head of the GTP in July 2017 and resigned from his position March 25 before the audit was complete.

Auditors found the lack of management oversight and cooperation led to inadequate internal controls over financial reporting and significant misstatements. “The Executive Director and Controller (management) did not implement a proper system of internal control to ensure the financial statements were accurate and complete.”

Specifically, auditors found the financial statements didn’t match accounting records, and management couldn’t explain the differences. An entry for $454,407 was recorded to balance financial statements, but management wasn’t able to provide a basis for the entry. Operating expenses were overstated by $1,268,205, or 75 percent of the final audited balances. Beginning balances were misstated by $89,893, even though the state controller provided management the correct amount.

Auditors also said GTP management failed to fully cooperate with the audit process. Specifically, it failed to provide all financial statements until Feb. 14, 2019, 146 days later than promised. Release of the audit report was delayed because management didn’t respond to auditors’ repeated communications. Management also failed to inform auditors that Thomas resigned.

As a result of the poor management, the auditors concluded information about the authority’s financial condition is misleading and that fraud could occur and go undetected.

The audit report included a response from GTP Interim Executive Director Richard Barkes and Chairman David Howard. They concurred with Wood’s findings and recommendations for better management and board oversight.

While leading the GTP, Thomas posted regularly on his Instagram account, including photos from domestic and overseas trips he took to Las Vegas, Thailand, and England, among other places. It’s unclear if he paid for this travel with GTP funds.

The 3rd District seat became open after the death of Rep. Walter Jones. Thomas served as mayor of Greenville from 2011 to July 2017, when he joined the GTP staff. Thomas didn’t respond to a Carolina Journal email request for comment on the audit.

The TransPark is administratively housed in the N.C. Department of Transportation.