12 Jan 2010

Cooks finance secretary faces suspension over tank farm woes

4:15 pm on 12 January 2010

The Cook Islands finance secretary is facing suspension by cabinet.

The finance minister Wilkie Rasmussen says Sholan Ivaiti didn't give prudent advice to the former Minister of Finance on the controversial Toa Fuel farm scheme.

Last month, the government settled out of court, paying Triad's legal costs of 52,000 US dollars and the owners Toa Petroleum 1.2 million dollars in compensation following the collapse of the scheme.

Mr Rasmussen says suspending the secretary until his contract expires in February is a disciplinary option cabinet will consider tomorrow.

"There were opportunities for him as secretary of finance to put across to the previous minister options, but I think that was not the case. And I think he was also unable to differentiate the political direction and ambitions of the former Minister of Finance from the actual reality of managing public funds."

Wilkie Rasmussen

The Prime Minister, Jim Marurai, dumped his previous finance minister, Sir Terepai Maoate, before Christmas over the tank farm issue.