DEARBORN HEIGHTS — Mayor Daniel Paletko has put forward a request for a forensic audit into the treasurer’s office.
In the proposed agenda item put forward by Paletko for the next City Council meeting, he states the audit should be conducted for the last few months that acting treasurer Zouher Abdel-Hak has been in the role.
“There were various systemic items which were brought to my attention by city employees,” the report said. “Bank reconciliations are behind nearly two months. It is important to ensure that all funds are accounted for and match general ledger’s totals. Due to the office being behind on bank statements, cash deposits were not posted to the appropriate month, causing difficulties in the Comptroller’s office in recording year end accounts receivable adjustments.”
In a City Council meeting on Oct. 27, it was announced that office equipment had been purchased without approval and this is also included on Paletko’s report.
“Purchases were made for office equipment using the city’s American Express credit card without prior approval from City Council,” the report said. “This is a violation of the city charter, the city’s purchasing policy and the city’s credit card use policy. Purchases for printing services were made without City Council approval. Treasurer (Abdel-Hak) instructed the vendor to split the bill into separate bills so as to keep each bill under $1,500. This was done to circumvent the city’s charter, bid and purchasing policies, and bypass City Council powers.”
Paletko’s report also said that Abdel-Hak opened new accounts and moved money without approval.
“Acting Treasurer Abdel-Hak opened up a new account and transferred approximately $1 million into said account without any prior approval,” the report said. “Acting Treasurer (Abdel-Hak) modified a bank code in the BS&A system that causes the comptroller’s office accounts payable clerk to not be able to process invoices until the issue was corrected. This could be considered an attempt to manipulate account balances.”
Paletko told The Arab American News that he believes the Council should investigate these issues as a means of protecting Councilwoman Lisa Hicks-Clayton, who was just elected to be the next treasurer.
“This is potentially putting Lisa Hicks-Clayton in a vulnerable position,” he said. “If this isn’t resolved before she takes office, it could put her at risk of taking the fall for what was not her doing.”
With the issues being brought forward to Paletko by employees, he said he’s worried about what he hasn’t been made aware of.
“We’ve lost quite a bit of interest by moving money and this is against policies, procedures, charter and state law,” he said. “I’ve already notified the appropriate authorities, but I don’t know what I don’t know. The employees are doing a great job and they are not at fault for this; they are working for a treasurer who doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Paletko confirmed that the banks have frozen the additional accounts as a result.
The next City Council meeting will be Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. via Zoom.