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By Moffat Mamu

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 28) – The Solomon Islands government has been urged to immediately investigate and recover from individuals all overpayments from a US$25 million Taiwan Exim Bank loan during the ethnic tension which began five years ago.

The audit report released last week by the Auditor General highlighted excessive abuse of the money.

It named very high profiled politicians to rural people benefiting from the $US25 million borrowed from the Taiwanese based bank.

Approximately $202,079,994 worth of ethnic related claims were received from years 2000-2003 and $198,413,830 was settled up to the first quarter of 2004, the audit report said.

A current MP of Parliament has been paid $300,000 for his claims. With another revealed to have received more than $800,000.

A former Permanent Secretary who also received a substantial amount of money under the same funding has now been charged by police.

The audit report has strongly suggested that the government consider broadening its investigation into other possible unsubstantiated and excessive claims.

The report said financial malpractices, manipulation and abuse of authority by public officials resulted in overpayment of claims totalling approximately $16.3m.

The Attorney General said failure by the government to adhere with Public Finance and Audit Act and Financial Instructions resulted in unvouched, therefore unauthorised expenditures of approximately 34.2m.

The report also found that substantial remunerations were paid to public officers for professional services during the state of emergency.

The report questioned whether that is being provided for under the Leadership Code Act.

November 29, 2005

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