AG's office has ordered audit of Ardmore finances

Wednesday, June 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ARDMORE, Okla. (AP) _ Ardmore officials say they have no idea why the Oklahoma Attorney General's office has ordered an investigative audit of city finances.

``The city of Ardmore has received no information from the attorney general's office regarding what they are investigating,'' Mayor John Moore said in a statement released Tuesday.

The attorney general received a petition to oust Moore, city commissioners and the city attorney.

``We have reviewed the ouster petition and have concluded that an investigative audit for criminal and other types of misconduct should be conducted,'' First Assistant Attorney General Tom Gruber said in his official request to the state auditor's office.

The petition concerns ``financial and investment matters,'' according to Gruber's letter.

``Because this involves an investigation which could result in criminal charges being filed, this audit and its results are to be kept confidential until the investigation has been completed,'' according to the letter.

City Attorney Ted Pasley said Tuesday he didn't know anything about the inquiry. He said it may be related to a federal fraud investigation of an investment firm the city uses.

``Some of our money is tied up in that federal court action (in Pennsylvania),'' Pasley said.

The Securities and Exchange Commission froze the assets of Bentley Securities Inc. while the agency conducts an investigation. The frozen assets include $1 million belonging to the city of Ardmore, Pasley said.

The investment firm was supposed to buy U.S.-backed securities for clients, but is accused by the SEC of buying riskier certificates of deposit that paid higher interest rates and pocketing the difference.

The state attorney general's office is required by statute to review the complaints made in an ouster petition that contains the verified signatures of five citizens.

The city is audited every year by a local accounting firm, Moore said.

City officials will cooperate fully with the investigation and is ``confident this special audit will not result in the finding of any impropriety, Moore said.

The state auditor's office has not scheduled a date to start on the audit.