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Canadian News Feb 6, 2020 5:30 AM EST

Ryerson student union breaks promise to conduct forensic audit

The Ryerson student union has failed to fulfill its promise to execute a forensic audit, which will make it more difficult to file charges against former members.

Ryerson student union breaks promise to conduct forensic audit
Jonathan Bradley Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) did not release the forensic audit that they promised to conduct on the expenses of last year’s credit card scandal at the Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM) on Monday.

The SAGM was advertised as the official release date of the forensic audit after it was requested by Ryerson University, following allegations of financial mismanagement by former RSU president Ram Ganesh.

Ganesh was impeached pending an investigation into overspending on the student union’s credit card account. The credit card statement, which had Ganesh’s name on it, included suspicious large purchases at LCBO locations, a shisha lounge, and restaurants.

Instead of a forensic audit, president Vanessa Henry and executive director Reanna Maharaj revealed a financial review conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that looked into credit card statements.

The financial review into the last academic year’s expenditures found that $99,477 could not be verified as legitimate by the RSU’s audit committee.

The $99,477 is part of a lump sum of $127,000, which was found to have no corresponding receipt or invoice and no corresponding credit card expense form. The financial review said that an “undocumented transaction does not mean the money was misspent,” but it means RSU policy was not followed. The RSU is investigating how to recover this money.

Not having a forensic audit done means that it might be tougher to lay criminal charges.

The financial review accounts and confirms a total of $260,000 made on three student union credit cards. These three credit cards were owned by Ganesh, former vice president of operations Savreen Gosal, and former financial controller Dharshini Jay.

According to the RSU’s financial review, the executive and board started investigating student union expenditures made from May to December 2018.

PwC said that it was possible to review all of the expenses and “supporting documents” from May to December 2018. However, a full forensic audit would have been expensive and taken a “significant amount of time.” The RSU asked PwC to investigate just the student union’s credit card expenses.

A forensic audit and sharing the results of it were part of three conditions agreed upon between Ryerson and the RSU after last year’s credit card scandal.

When asked by a student why a forensic audit was not conducted as required by Ryerson at the SAGM, Maharaj said she could not comment because of legal reasons.

“PwC began its investigation by speaking to key current and former RSU [executives] and staff. Because the RSU was, and is, investigating options to pursue recovery of funds, the RSU instructed PwC not to interview anyone who was impeached,” says the financial review.

PwC was provided with the credit card statements from May 5, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2019 and all available receipts, invoices, and expense forms. They were granted access to internal emails for the president, vice president of operations, vice president of equity, vice president of education, vice president of student life and events, the financial controller, and human resources from February 2018 to February 2019.

Transactions on all three credit cards were reviewed, and it was determined whether credit card expense forms and receipts were available.

PwC did not determine whether these expenses were reasonable, as this was done by the RSU’s audit committee.

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