FIJI AUDITOR PROBES OFFICIALS’ TRAVEL RECORDS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 24) – Some chief executive officers in the Fiji government are under investigation by the Auditor-General for abuse of travel allowances.

Public Service Commission chief executive officer Anare Jale confirmed that a number of CEOs from the 23 government departments are being investigated.

"I have just received the letter from the Auditor-General's Office but I cannot disclose the names of the CEOs just yet," Jale said. "The investigations are still in the preliminary stages. Nothing has been confirmed as yet."

Jale said the Auditor-General, Eroni Vatuloka, had requested files on CEOs' travel details from PSC last year. He said the investigations did not mean that corruption was rife among the government's top brass.

He said the investigations were being carried out to safeguard taxpayers' money.

This is the fourth investigation of its kind by the Auditor-General into the financial transactions of top government officials.

The first was against former Minister for Multi-Ethnic Affairs, George Shiu Raj, the second saw the dismissal of Labour CEO Brian Singh and the third was against Cabinet ministers.

Raj has already appeared in court on charges of defrauding the government with a travel agent while Singh has appealed to the Public Appeals Board against the termination of his contract.

Jale said the Ministry of Finance would investigate Singh for losing government property while in office.

"He would have to answer to charges that government property went missing under his care," he said. The Ministry of Finance said two laptop computers under his charge had gone missing.

January 25, 2005

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