COOKS MINISTER TO BE ASKED TO REPAY $6,500

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Travel expense documentation ‘lost’

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (The Cook Islands Herald, Sept. 20, 2008) - Sonny Williams, former Secretary of the Ministry for Cultural Development is to be asked to pay nearly NZ$9,500 [US$6,550] back to the Ministry.

An Audit Office report tabled in parliament on Monday revealed that between July 2004 and October 2005, four payments totaling NZ$35,045 [US$24,165] were deposited into Williams’ personal credit card for two overseas trips, the Pacific Arts Festival in Palau in 2004 and a UNESCO meeting in Paris in 2005.

While the reasons for the four payments were found to be legitimate for the Ministry’s purposes, there was no way of knowing if the funds were actually used for the purposes stated because of the lack of sufficient supporting documentation at the Ministry.

Audit concluded that $9,423.76 remained unaccounted for and needed to be paid and reimbursed. Audit recommended that unless Williams could account for this amount, he pay it back to the Ministry as soon as possible.

Given the level of unaccounted public funds advanced to Williams, the Audit office has sought legal advice from Crown Law.

In reply to Audit’s findings, Williams explained records were lost during the transition when his term ended and his successor took over

The Cook Islands Times: http://www.ciherald.co.ck/Times.htm Copyright 2007 © Elijah Communications Ltd. All rights reserved

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