An audit of a Chicago-based national sorority has found significant accounting problems, seemingly at the hands of the organization's top officials.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation's oldest historically black collegiate sorority, is at the center of a lawsuit filed in 2009 by members against the sorority, its former president, Barbara A. McKinzie, and other officials alleging that tens of thousands of dollars were misappropriated by organization leaders, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The results of the recent audit could strengthen the case against AKA: accounting firm Ragland and Associates found evidence that McKinzie and two other top officials created a secret, second set of financial books to circumvent accounting policies, and that McKinzie and several former staff members used sorority credit cards for personal spending, according to the Sun-Times.
One striking incident cited in the audit concerns two wax statues, one a likeness of McKinzie, that were funded by the organization, which was ultimately billed for thousands more than the cost of the statues themselves, according to the Chicago Tribune. In all, the audit found nearly $1.7 million of unauthorized payments in the official and unofficial record books.
Alpha Kappa Alpha issued a statement Thursday noting significant policy changes, including developing written parameters for credit card use and eliminating secondary accounting books, the Associated Press reports.
"We remain committed to preserving the assets of the organization and to continually reviewing and strengthening our operations. The audit's findings are essential to that process," the statement said, according to the AP.
The sorority, founded in 1908 at Howard University in Washington, D.C., boasts roughly 260,000 members across the country.