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Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Jersey City CFO says she was fired for refusing to falsify documents

Lubna Muneer alleges city finance director wanted her to fudge cash position

By David Wildstein, February 26 2020 5:48 pm

The chief financial officer of Jersey City is alleging the she was fired from her post yesterday for refusing to falsify records.

In a letter to mayor Steven Fulop and the city council, Lubna Muneer says she was terminated by John Metro, the city’s finance director, after she complained that the annual financial statement was prepared without completing the bank reconciliation statement.

She says that auditor Mark Bednarz did not report the true cash position to the state Division of Local Government Services.

“According to law, this is an unfair and unethical practice” Muneer said.  “Please don’t forget 2018 bank reconciliations were completed in November 2019.  It was an ongoing issue in accounts and control before I joined this municipality.”

Muneer claims that state statutes required her to monitor the city’s budget and submit true reports to the state.

“John Metro did not allow me to perform my statutory rights,” she said. “I wanted to monitor budget and payroll, but John Metro never allow(ed) me to do and became aggressive.”

Muneer, appointed to her post last July as the first Muslim CFO in Jersey City, alleges that Metro “kept changing (the) reorganizational chart without governing body approval.”

“I wanted to answer all his false accusation(s), but he did not provide me the opportunity,” Muneer said.  “He had planned to terminate me.”

Muneer is alleging potentially criminal activities.

“I informed John Metro that we cannot submit (a) false report because it is against the law and professional ethics,” the former CFO wrote. “I do not want to provide (a) false cash position to DLGS and as punishment, he unfairly terminated me.”

She said Metro “was very unhappy” that she sought advice from the state, the Jersey City Law Department, and city council president Joyce Watterman.

Fulop did not immediately respond to a 5:47 PM direct message seeking comment.

This is the second known potential whistleblower case in Jersey City in less than a year.

Nuria Sierra, a 22-year employee of the Jersey City Employment and Training Program says she was fired because she had concerns about the financial management of the agency by acting executive director Sudhan Thomas, a close political ally of Fulop.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal Sierra alleged that Thomas has “continuously misappropriated funding and has jeopardized the financial integrity of the agency.

Since then, Federal prosecutors charged Thomas with embezzling more than $45,000 from the Jersey City Employment and Training Program.  He also faces state bribery charges.

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