NEDERLAND - The Nederland Heritage Festival Foundation board of directors released a statement Thursday defending their decision to seek reimbursement of missing and apparent misdirection of the group's funds.
They did not disclose how much money was misused nor who the responsible party is.
The board denied any cover up of wrongdoing by the "offending parties" and said they voted on an option that resulted in the Foundation's recovery of the missing amount, even if that payment required the grant by the Foundation of a release of the potential offending parties.
They said the driving factor behind their decisions was to ensure scholarships that the foundation backs would continue to be paid out to the students who earned them.
“The decisions made by the Board of the Foundation were made in good faith, upon the advice of counsel and outside professionals and were based upon the over-riding concern that the final decision was a decision that was in the best long term interest, both financially and otherwise, of the Foundation and the community it serves,” according to the statement.
“We are not now, nor have we been involved in any criminal investigation involving those allegations,” Chief Darrell Bush of the Nederland Police Department told 12News in email last week.
Bush sits on the Heritage Festival board, but, according to the statement, did not vote on the resolution regarding the missing funds.
The board was notified about the possible misuse of funds after the completion of the 2016 Nederland Heritage Festival and chose to investigate on its own according to the statement.
The board then started a "more formal" investigation by outside counsel, the statement said.
The investigation, which was not a full forensic audit, started in May 2016 and was completed in September 2016 the statement said.
One of the reasons the board did not launch a forensic audit was because because of the board's concern for "potential negative feedback to future Festival operations."
The board said in the statement that the internal investigation was performed by "persons with appropriate accounting and legal expertise."
The board said that their internal investigation found little chance of recovering the missing funds, citing an "extremely limited ability of the Foundation to recover even a minimal portion of the subject funds."
The statement says that the only source they identified for repayment was the "potential of a voluntary payment made through third party sources who were not directly involved in the controversy."
They opted against that option, however, because it came with the condition that it would require a “full civil release” of a responsible party.
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