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June 10, 2011

  • News:  French Qtr Credit Card Woes 

    New Orleans's Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux released his findings relating to a lengthy investigation which took a close look at the credit card transactions of the former director of the French Market Corp. America's oldest public market, the French Market Corp. manages the nonprofit French Market owned by the city which houses food merchants, restaurants, a farmer's market, flea market and other shops. Kenneth Ferdinand resigned his position last year under scrutiny questioning his use of the agency's credit cards and his management style. In Quatrevaux's report, he noted that some of the city's financial policies were inadequate.

    Quatrevaux's office found that the agency did not have a formal credit card policy and that the employees who used the cards did not provide sufficient documentation to show that the expenditure was an approved business expense. Employees were using the agency's credit cards to pay for such things as gift cards for employees which is a violation of state law and failed to report them properly according to Federal tax laws. In an attempt to conceal the gift card purchases, the agency made several smaller purchases to avoid additional approval that would be required for purchases over $2,000. During a three year period, 32 percent of the card transactions did not have proper documentation and 50 percent did not support a business expense. The investigation also revealed that the agency mis-managed the card payments which resulted in them paying excessive late charges and finance charges.

    When Ferdinand resigned his position, he agreed to pay the agency back $5,000 for the credit card purchases, however card purchases amounting to nearly $20,000 are being questioned. Meanwhile, the city has hired a new director, Frank Pizzolato. Under Pizzolato's management, the agency has implemented new card spending policies. According to a letter directed to the Inspector General, Pizzolato which said that the agency has stopped all abusive card spending practices.

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