3 Apr 2006

Solomons police confirm PM under fraud investigation

8:25 pm on 3 April 2006

The Solomon Islands police commissioner has confirmed that an investigation is under way into allegations of fraud against the caretaker prime minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza.

This follows the tabling of a report by the auditor-general in parliament last year, raising questions about missing money from compensation payments when Sir Allan headed the Ministry of National Unity and Reconciliation which was responsible for disbursing the funds.

The report stated that more than five million U.S. dollars went missing, and that many of the compensation claims, which included one submitted by Sir Allan, were excessive or falsified.

Sir Allan has previously denied any wrongdoing and said he would welcome an enquiry.

The police commissioner, Shane Castles, says the issue is being looked at after the matter was referred to police.

"Yes, the issue has been reported to the police. It's with our corruption targetting team. At the moment, the issue is being assessed, and where there's appropriate evidence and avenues to explore, they're being investigated. And, I can't obviously take the issue any further than that at this time."

Mr Castles says his understanding of the audit report is that it does not go to specifics in terms of the evidence that's required.

He says it points to where enquiries may be made, and they are being pursued, but what's tabled in an audit report versus what's admissible evidence is two different stories.