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Tini gives car back to Chinese builder

Florence Syme-Buchanan RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March. 2, 2011) - After numerous demands by the Audit office and the Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC), a NZ$37,990 [US$28,000] automobile once used by former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Tini has gone back to its owner.

[PIR editor’s note: The Cook Islands Investment Corporation (CIIC) is a government agency that oversees state-owned enterprises.]

The silver colored late model Suzuki Vitara was purchased in September 2008 by Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) which was contracted by government to build the Telecom Sports Arena. Tini oversaw the construction as then CEO of CIIC.

Audit director, Paul Allsworth says after inquiries by his office, CCECC representative Mr. Li late last year obtained the Suzuki Grand Vitara jeep that was given to the former CEO John Tini.

Allsworth says it’s highly inappropriate for CCECC to provide any vehicle or any asset for that matter to any government official that has not been fully disclosed and approved by the employer, in this case, the CIIC board and minister.

The use of the vehicle by Tini became the subject of a special audit which began in March last year. The Audit report, tabled August 2010, alleged Tini had broken the law and used his position to gain benefit, in this case the jeep from the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company.

Tini had always maintained that the jeep was only in his care and it was a private arrangement between himself and CCECC.

CINews reported in August last year that Audit alleged Tini breached section 6 (1) of the Secret Commissions Act given that he received a gift the use of the vehicle from the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company while he was employed as chief executive of CIIC and failed to disclose the information to his employer, the board of Cook Islands Investment Corporation.

At the time Audit recommended CIIC set up robust policies and procedures to manage conflict situations that could arise at the corporation which manages state assets valued in excess of NZ$170 million [US$125.6 million].

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