SOLOMONS OFFICIALS HELP SELVES TO PUBLIC FUNDS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Nov. 6) – A number of Solomon Islands Government officers have been implicated by the Auditor General as having helped themselves with large sums of public money.

The officers implicated were highlighted in the Auditor’s report on three Government funding schemes for rural projects administered by the three Ministries of Agriculture, Trade and Commerce and Tourism Development.

The audit report was critical about the manner in which three officials directly involved in the administration and disbursement of grants under the schemes.

The officials allegedly benefited from the funding by obtaining funds for themselves, their immediate families and relatives.

The report highlighted the scheme’s Accountant in the Ministry of Commerce, Irene Ruele obtained SB$310,000 [US$44,485] under eight project.

It says the Chief Accountant for the scheme, Gwen Koke, obtained nearly SB$213,000 [US$30,565] under the disguise of three projects.

The report also says the Director of Business Development projects, Joseph Heroau had obtained SB$205,000 [US$29,417] for three projects.

The officers obtained the money between 2003 and 2006.

Copy of the Auditor’s report had been made available to the Commission of Inquiry in the April riots in the capital Honiara in 2006.

Submission of the Auditor’s report is part of the Commission’s mandate to probe into suspected areas of corrupt practices to help determine the underlying causes to public dissatisfaction and complaints against corruption among government officials and politicians.

It was anticipated this had prompted public anger which helped sparked the riots in Honiara in 2006.

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