Independent accountant says fiscal proposal has loopholes

A proposal to tighten fiscal oversight for Las Vegas’ tax funded tourism boosters still has some pretty big loopholes.

That’s what an independent accountant said after reading a proposal for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s audit committee to consider.

For starters, the proposal calls for complaints about financial impropriety to go through President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter who would review them and decide whether or not to investigate.

"It allows for something to be swept under the rug," said Chicago-based accountant Sherwin Brook. "That is not where you want to be. You want to have visibility and clarity."

The eight-page policy proposal was included with the agenda for an audit committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

According to the agenda, the proposal was written, "to address recent audit issues."

The problem according to Brook is the "Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline" detailed in the proposal goes directly to Ralenkotter’s desk.

"Only the President/CEO will have access to the hotline," the policy proposal states.

It continues: "The President is authorized to initiate an investigation based upon a (c)omplaint."

Brook says it leaves the taxpayer-funded agency open to potential abuse.

"There is no oversight to make sure that (the president) follows up," Brook said. "That is really inappropriate. The audit committee should review this."

The authority has a budget of about $294 million annually, most of which comes from taxes on Las Vegas hotel rooms.

The agency’s fiscal housekeeping procedures have come under fire recently amid allegations by political opponents of lax oversight of a contract with the advertising agency R&R Partners and also a decision by Ralenkotter to direct a $25,000 contribution to a medical charity that honored him during a banquet.

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