23 May 2007

Former Solomons minister sentenced for official corruption

1:31 pm on 23 May 2007

A Solomon Islands government MP, Francis Zama, has been sentenced to 20 months in jail for official corruption.

The South New Georgia/Rendova MP was convicted of unlawfully obtaining close to 3,800 U.S. dollars through an exemption from stamp duty when he was Minister of Finance under the former government.

The Solomon Star newspaper reports that Zama is out on bail, pending the outcome of his appeal against the sentence.

The magistrate told Zama, who pleaded not guilty, that as a minister at the time, he would have had access to proper advice and he had an obligation to be aware of how ministers should behave.

He said the minister, whom he called patently dishonest in the giving of evidence, had held a position of trust at the highest level of government and his committing of the offence was a cynical attempt to obtain personal gain at the expense of the citizens of Solomon Islands.

The magistrate told Mr Zama that a significant term of imprisonment must be imposed.