ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - University of New Mexico officials are taking a serious look at a secret bank account linked to questionable spending.
The account is connected to a group that should know better: a student organization at UNM Law School.
An audit will determine whether university money went into that secret bank account, which was used to pay for trips to liquor stores, nail salons and restaurants.
UNM oversees more than 300 bank accounts for student organizations.
The groups use the accounts to pay for anything from travel for conferences to buying refreshments for weekly meetings.
But some things are off limits.
“No political or charitable contributions,” said Debbie Morris, director at the Student Activities Center. “They can't buy alcohol with their funding.”
That is because the student groups are getting money from student fees collected by the school's government bodies. Those student groups include the Student Bar Association, which UNM says is linked to an unauthorized, off-campus account that was used last year.
“As part of the graduate and professional student association they receive something called prorated benefits, so they get--I believe it's $10 per person--and that money is deposited into the Student Bar Association account,” Morris said.
The Student Bar Association had one authorized account the money went into, but an audit is underway to find out if any of it also went into the secret account.
Bank statements from that account last year show charges like this: $555.46 spent at Jubilation Wine and Spirits in August and more than $260 in October.
Statements also showed multiple charges at a nail salon, Zinc Wine Bar and Grill, Kelly's Brew Pub and even hundreds of dollars spent at a Tiffany & Co. in San Francisco.
They are all charges a university audit is looking into.
“The internal audit is doing a very thorough, intensive look at what expenditures and charges were made in that account, where they went and who they were made by to try to determine if there was any misuse of funds,” said Dianne Anderson, UNM spokesperson.
The unauthorized bank account has since been closed.
In emails to law students on Tuesday Student Bar Association officers said no one on the current SBA board knew about the actions of a former board member. They have instituted several reforms to tighten money-handling procedures this year, the officers said.
UNM says it will pass along the findings of its internal audit to UNM police and the state auditor to see if further action needs to be taken.
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