Published: Sept. 30, 2007  
The county's audit

Miami-Dade County Auditor Cathy Jackson issued a report Friday critical of the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust, a nonprofit anti-poverty agency. Jackson's report says that the trust, which has received more than $68 million from local, state and federal agencies, failed to achieve many of its goals.

Trust leaders declined to respond to the audit, but have previously told auditors that some of their problems stem from the government curtailing funding.

The audit reported that the trust repeatedly failed to oversee loans and control its finances, and handed money to questionable start-ups and businesses tied to board members. The audit found that the trust, created in 1999, also helped few businesses and created few jobs. The trust also struggles to collect on deadbeat loans, which were restructured or written off without board approval.

The audit, acknowledging that backing start-ups is risky, said the trust must tighten its lending practices, obtain collateral from applicants, and refrain from lending to insiders, which may violate conflict of interest laws.