Seasonal Work ‘Agent’ Taken Into Custody In Solomons

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Seasonal Work ‘Agent’ Taken Into Custody In Solomons Allegedly got fees from prospective workers, then went missing

By Assumpta Buchanan

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan .9, 2013) – A 50 year-old man from Malaita has been remanded in custody late yesterday afternoon for one count of conversion in the Solomon Islands.

Simon Peter Waleilia, who was an agent for recruiting seasonal workers to work in Australia, was accused of collecting SBD$4,400 [US$] from each person for administration fee and air fare.

He established his company as P.P. Employment Agency Ltd. and its office used to be located at the Supreme Plaza at Kukum Highway, East Honiara.

Police alleged he established the company to liaise with a relative’s company named McMahon of Batlow Agents that was operating in Australia.

They were agents to recruit seasonal workers to work in Australia.

Police alleged that whilst trying to register his company and processing documents to send over to his sister, he recruited 200 people and collected money from them.

This has been alleged to have occurred between February 17 and August 20, last year.

It was further alleged that after collecting the money from the victims, he told them to come back to his office to confirm the date they will be travelling.

But since September last year, the victims have been going to his office only to find the office locked.

They called his mobile phone but it was offline.

Police prosecutor Tony To’oga when making the application for a remand informed the court that the accused was arrested in Malango, Central Guadalcanal, through information given by his brother.

He said the victims went to where the accused’s brother lived and threatened him and he was therefore forced to give information to the accused’s whereabouts.

Mr. To’oga sought the remand application on grounds of absconding, the charge is serious, and he has no fixed address in Honiara and for the accused’s safety since the victims are looking for him.

"Within half an hour ago from now after he was arrested, a group of people (the alleged victims) came to the Central Police Station looking for the accused," Mr. To’oga told the court.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Emma Garo before granting the remand application asked the accused whether he wants a lawyer to represent him, but the accused said he will represent himself.

Having been satisfied with the remand application, Ms. Garo remanded Waleilia in custody and adjourned the matter to January 21 for further mention.

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