Former president of the Dominica Academy of Arts and Sciences (DAAS), Dr. Clayton Shillingford, has sought to clear the air concerning the alleged misappropriation of funds by past treasurer of the organization, United Workers (UWP) candidate for Morne Jaune, Dr. Thomson Fontaine.
For weeks Fontaine has been the subject intense criticism by some members of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) who said he had transferred money from a DAAS account to his personal account.
On Monday morning, privately-owned Kairi FM reported that it had in its possession “evidence to substantiate that claim” and the reason why Fontaine resigned as treasurer of DAAS.
According to the Kairi newscast, the evidence was in the form of “a series of communication” among top ranking members of DAAS on the matter, including then President Shillingford and Vice President Gabriel Christian.
It said Shillingford wrote to members of the organization saying it “is confronted with a situation in which DAAS treasurer, Dr. Thomson Fontaine transferred money in three transactions from a Wachovia (bank) DAAS acount in the United States to his personal account account in Bank Staff Credit Union.”
The correspondence reportedly said three transactions were made by Fontaine to the total of $27,500 and Shillingford said he had “no idea why the transfers took place without the knowledge of the DAAS.”
The newscast went on to say that Shillingford asked Fontaine to restore the funds back to DAAS for months “and he had not done so.”
But speaking on privately-owned Q95 on Monday morning, Shillingford admitted that DAAS funds were transferred by Fontaine but it was never misappropriated.
“Let me declare first of all that there was no misappropriation of funds from the DAAS while I was president,” Shillingford stated. “I instructed Thomson Fontaine, as treasurer at that time, to move monies out of the DAAS account and but into a CD (Certificate of Deposit) because we had most of the funds in a checking account and substantial amount of this money was sitting there and of course attracting no interest. So I asked Thomson Fontaine as treasurer to take some of those funds and put into a CD where we will be able to get some interest on the funds. That was an instruction from me as president.”
Shillingford explained “an error in judgement” occurred when Fontaine transferred the funds to the CD, as instructed, “but attached his name to it.”
“I think he did it in good faith but it was not the intention in an organization of that kind for certain things to be done,” he noted.
He stated that he had full knowledge of the monies at all times “and therefore the idea that he could have used that money for any personal purpose was impossible because I knew how much went into the CD, when it went into it, and how it went into the CD.”
Shillingford further stated that that matter was eventually corrected. “There was no money, let me repeat, no money, from the DAAS which Thomson acquired for his use,” he noted. “That never occurred.”
He noted that despite the error in judgement, Thomson felt he was being attacked and he elected to resign as DAAS treasurer.
“That was of course, his judgement, but let me make this statement again that there was no misappropriation of funds from the DAAS account,” Shillingford said. “Not a single cent.”