Investigation Into Cook Islands MP ‘Back At Square One’

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Teina Bishop under shadow of corruption probe for 15-months

By Emmanuel Samoglou

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Sept. 15, 2014) – Aitutaki MP Teina Bishop’s lawyer is concerned the ongoing investigation of the politician is back at square one after a recent visit by law enforcement officials from New Zealand.

Speaking from the steps of Avarua Courthouse - where he has been participating in ongoing electoral petition hearings - lawyer Tony Manarangi said several officers from New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office recently travelled to Rarotonga to conduct work on the case.

"It looked like they came up here and just started the investigation all over again," said Manarangi.

Launched in July 2013, Bishop has been the subject of an investigation by local and NZ-based law enforcement officials, who are looking into allegations of bribery and corruption levelled against the MP.

In February of this year, local authorities and officers from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) carried out a series of search warrants on a number of locations in Rarotonga and Aitutaki.

No charges have been laid in connection with the investigation.

Speaking from Aitutaki yesterday, Bishop said the ongoing investigation – now in its 15th month – is increasingly impacting his family and his work.

"It will impact my position in the next government," he said.

The latest development comes over two months after the investigation had appeared to be coming to a close.

In early July, Solicitor General Kim Saunders said she received word from the SFO that a recommendation would soon be directed to Cook Islands Police on how to proceed in the investigation by the end of that month.

Yesterday, she confirmed a recommendation had to be received.

Earlier this year, an official from the SFO said any inquiries into the investigation should be directed to Cook Islands police.

Questions on the recent developments described by Manarangi have been forwarded to Commissioner Maara Tetava.

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