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Finance Commissioner Fired For Issuing $109,500 In Unauthorized Bonuses To Department Employees

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Virgin Islands Finance Commissioner Kirk Callwood, Sr. was abruptly fired this week after issuing more than $100,000 in unauthorized stipends to employees in his department.

Government House spokesman Richard Motta, Jr. said the governor asked for Callwood’s resignation on Monday after learning that the Finance commissioner used $109,500 within his allotted budget to recognize and pay 37 of his employees.

In an effort to recognize employees, the Callwood issued payment stipends to his rank and file staff without proper authorization, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. said. While the amounts were within his allotted budget, the action was not previously approved. 

Bryan said Tuesday that he is “pursuing the implementation of updated procedures that will prevent the reoccurrence of this action.”  

“While all of our employees deserve to be recognized, we must do so in accordance with our established policies and procedures,” Bryan said. “We will examine all of our established policies as they relate to this type of employee compensation and make the improvements where necessary to ensure this does not happen again.” 

All of the “bonus” checks were issued by Callwood in the last two weeks, Motta said, adding that the government will attempt “recall” the checks the commissioner issued at his own discretion.

“I am grateful for Commissioner Callwood’s service during his tenure. He was a valued member of our financial team and an integral part of the success in fiscal management that we have had to this point. I wish him well in his future endeavors,” Governor Bryan added. 

The governor accepted Commissioner Callwood’s resignation effective immediately and named Assistant Commissioner Clarina Modeste as Acting Commissioner of Finance. 

Callwood’s background in the “connected” private sector of the territory. He worked as the chief operating officer (COO) at International Capital Management (ICM) and in a similar capacity at Viya telecommunications.

Viya two generations ago was the Virgin Islands Telephone Corporation (VITELCO) which then became Innovative Communications Corporation (ICC) which was heavily subsidized by the territorial government when former Governor Roy Lester Schneider and Lt. Governor Kenneth Ezra Mapp ran Government House.

Ann E. Abramson, the former Public Works Department commissioner for Schneider-Mapp was convicted of stealing at least $10,000 in FEMA funds earmarked for the territorial government. Abramson sat on the boards for VITELCO and ICC as a government employee and state-approved vendor.

She was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for a 1999 federal conviction and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and to make restitution to the federal and local government in the amount of $79,639.

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