To many in the District, Chief Financial Officer, Natwar Gandhi, who oversees the Office of Tax and Revenue, is one of several people who have been given credit for the financial turnaround that the district has experienced. The transformation from a city on the financial brink in the early and mid-nineties to a city that has produced balanced budgets, surpluses and top bond ratings, is remarkable.
To others, Gandhi is a manager who can't fix the problems that have plagued his tax office for years, problems that, one way or another have cost the city millions in tax revenue.
No one who has lived in the region since 2007 can forget the colossal fraud perpetrated by Tax Office Manager Harriette Walters who ripped off the tax office to the tune of $48 million dollars.
That monster scam preceded a case uncovered in 2011 that involved a tax examiner who generated phony refunds totaling more than $400 thousand dollars.
Recently, a third case of fraud has come to light. An ex-employee of the office of tax and revenue pleaded guilty to filing 282 false D.C. tax returns and 973 false federal returns that netted tax refunds of more than $14.7m.
Then there is the issue of transparency, or the lack of it. Gandhi's scheme to leave internal audits in draft form so that he was not required to release the audit results smacks of someone who is more concerned about his reputation and job security than serving the city. This lack of transparency has now triggered a "confidential, informal inquiry" by the securities & exchange commission who is concerned that there may have been a failure to disclose material findings from internal audits at the time of bond offerings. What a mess.
Why would D.C. think it can afford to keep someone like Nat Gandhi in control of the Office of Tax and Revenue much longer?
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