"For several months now, the Foreign Affairs Committee has been working with USAID and the State Department to address troubles with Cuba democracy programs. In 2006, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 'internal controls – both over awarding of Cuba program grants and oversight of grantees – do not provide adequate assurance that the grant funds are being used properly and that grantees are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.' Since then, the program has been expanded more than four-fold, raising Congressional concern regarding the adequacy of accountability measures.

"In fact, Foreign Affairs Committee oversight efforts have so far uncovered two instances of theft from the program which apparently total about $700,000. These events are now under investigation.

"In response to our Committee’s concerns, USAID has announced an immediate review and an expanded audit of all Cuba democracy program participants, and I applaud this expanded oversight. Yesterday, I received assurances that USAID and the State Department are seized with the gravity of the problems in these programs and that they are actively working to correct the problems. Therefore, yesterday I decided to release the hold placed on the $45 million in funding for Cuba democracy programs, except that funds will not be extended to those program participants that are under investigation. I look forward to working with USAID and the State Department to ensure that our Cuba democracy programs are properly administered."

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