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South Carolina to start multimillion-dollar forensic review of $1.8B outlay

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(The Center Square) — A South Carolina taxpayer-funded forensic accounting review could soon answer questions about roughly $1.8 billion officials found in a state account.

On Oct. 31, 2023, South Carolina Comptroller General Brian Gaines sent a letter to South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis, directing Loftis to research the account’s origins.

It marked the start of a months-long Senate investigation that exposed what a Senate Finance Committee Constitutional Subcommittee report dubbed “financial irregularities” in the state treasurer’s office, an assertion the treasurer’s office has disputed.

On April 11, Republican Governor Henry McMaster convened a meeting with state officials and agency leaders, charging them with determining the purpose and destination of the $1.8 billion before July 1. The Department of Administration coordinated the effort.

On Tuesday, the governor’s office announced that the group had prepared the documentation and information required for the forensic accounting review to start. State officials expect to award a $3 million contract to an accounting firm around July 16.

The money for the contract was included in the 2024-25 state budget.

“We recognize the importance of people and agencies working together — collaborating, communicating and cooperating — across boundaries to work for the citizens of our state,” McMaster said in a statement. “I commend the working group for doing just this. We will continue to build on their hard work and support and count on their aid to the outside accounting firm to conduct what will be a thorough review.”

The working group, which includes outside counsel the attorney general’s office has engaged, has met 11 times since April on top of other “individual and cross-agency meetings.” The group includes employees from the state treasurer’s, governor’s and auditor’s offices.

The group has examined the 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report restatement, organized documentation, and improved collaboration among agencies overseeing state finances. State officials said the group’s work has included creating a centralized location for bank and investment statements.

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