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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Aug. 31) - Two more men suspected of stealing money belonging to the people of Solomon Islands Western Province were arrested and charged yesterday in Gizo.

Joseph Douglas, former adviser to premier Clement Base and Alfred Dio Kaehuna, an ex-finance minister of the province, were charged in relation to an alleged fraud involving Western Provincial Government logging licenses.

Base, who was premier in the last Western Provincial Government, was arrested earlier last Thursday over the same matter.

Yesterday investigators from the RSIP/PPF Joint Corruption Task Force traveled to the Western Province where they interviewed and arrested Douglas and Kaehuna.

Both men appeared in the Magistrates Court in Gizo on charges of official corruption and conversion totaling more than SB$86,000.

Police alleged that between 28 June 2002 and 28 July 2004, Douglas obtained logging license fees of SB$70,600 that were due to the Western Province Government, and subsequently converted these payments for his own use and the use of others.

Douglas was charged with one count of Official Corruption and 9 counts of Conversion.

Kaehuna is accused of obtaining SB$15,450 worth of payments from logging fees between the 7th and 9th of May, 2003.

He was charged with one count of Official Corruption and three counts of Conversion.

Base, who appeared in court last week, was accused of converting $275,400 in logging license fees for his own use from June 2002 to July 2004.

Police Commissioner, Shane Castles, said the arrests in this case were a terrific example of dedication and determination of investigators.

"I cannot speak highly enough of the enormous effort that has gone into investigating this case and the subsequent arrests," the Commissioner said.

"The matter is now before the courts and the people of Western Province should feel comforted in the knowledge that the justice system will now deal with these matters," Commissioner Castles said.

Douglas, aged 49, and Kaehuna 36, both from Munda, were bailed to appear at the Honiara Magistrates’ Court on 22 September 2005. Base is also due to appear in court on that day.

Base and Douglas were once soul mates during their time as premier and adviser. They hardly travel to Honiara without each other.

When they were at the helm of the Western Province Government, they used to come to Honiara and live in luxury hotels.

Despite numerous complaints from the Western Province public about their style of leadership, they continued to ignore those concerns.

September 1, 2005

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