18 Jan 2008

Tongan PM responds to corruption claims

2:50 pm on 18 January 2008

The Prime Minister of Tonga says he will meet the auditor general this afternoon for an update on the investigation into the Minister of tourism.

The Auditor General is investigating allegations, made by the director of tourism, that the minister, Fineasi Funaki, misappropriated funds from the ministry by banking a cheque in his own account.

MPs have called for both the Prime Minister and Mr Fineasi to resign.

Dr Feleti Sevele says the minister has a reasonable explanation, and he is awaiting the auditor general's report.

"This was not for his own benefit. They don't have what most departments have, something like petty cash, and a lot of other ministries they do it through having a revolving account so it doesn't get clogged up in the system. That was his explanation, and he said he discussed it with some of his staff."

Dr Feleti Sevele says he will not respond to allegations that have been made about him by an anonymous person until that person comes forward.