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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (August 21, 1998 - Marshall Islands Journal)---The Marshall Islands government did not have adequate control over the sales of passports during fiscal year 1997, with the result being that funds could possibly have been misappropriated, reported an independent audit by Deloitte and Touche.

The audit shows that a total of $2,420,000 was received by the government for sales of passports between November 20, 1996 and April 22, 1997 for passports issued between January 10 and August 30, 1996.

"No explanation was made available as to the delay in remittance and receipt of funds by RepMar from the (passport selling) agents," the audit reported.

A payment to the General Fund of $370,000 on November 21, 1996 had no supporting documentation, the audit said. An additional $2,050,000 received by the General Fund and the RMI Investment Development Fund for passport sales was supported only by listing passport numbers. But, said the audit, "these passports did not appear to have been issued in sequential order."

Both of these problems demonstrate "inadequate controls over the issuance and sale of passports and the collection of revenue from these sales. The audit added that lack of documentation for passport sales was reported in last year's audit as well.

The audit also reported that for FY 1996, the government's general fund received $5,117,065 from passport sales. (This does not include revenues that were deposited to the RMI Investment Development Fund.)

MARSHALL ISLANDS JOURNAL Box 14, Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960 E-mail: Fax: 692-625-3136 Tel. 692-625-8143 Subscriptions (weekly): 1 year: US $87.00; International $227.00 (air mail)

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