22 Nov 2006

Solomon Islands auditor general hopeful public funds can be reclaimed

7:33 pm on 22 November 2006

The audit office in Solomon Islands has handed over further information to the police as the investigation continues into compensation payments worth millions of dollars.

The auditor general, Floyd Fatai, says he understands that police are close to laying charges in at least one case connected to the 2001 Taiwan EXIM bank loan worth 25 million US dollars.

The loan was sought by the government to compensate those who suffered damage to their properties during the ethnic tension.

Mr Fatai says they audited 60 sample claimants out of the more than 1,000 people who applied and found that in all cases, the claims and the compensation were vastly inflated.

He says those implicated in the scam include one MP, two former MPs, five government officials, including one permanent secretary, and four ex militants.

Mr Fatai says they made use of their standing.

"Those people in higher positions, I would say, have benefitted because they had the opportunity to get themselves paid first, one thing, get their claims through, through the use of their position, and could do anything to manipulate the system so that they benefit ahead of others."

Mr Fatai says if the one case proves successful in the courts, they may look at pursuing the missing money from those who inflated their claims or made bogus claims.