15 Jan 2003

Solomon Islands government to get huge grant from little known association

8:27 am on 15 January 2003

The Solomon Islands government says it will get a 350 million US dollar grant from an association believed to have links to former militants from the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville.

The prime minister's office has told the national broadcaster, the SIBC, that the grant is free and Solomon Islands is not expected to give anything in return.

The grant is said to have been given by a group called the Royal Association of Nations and Kingdoms.

The head of the National Policy and Monitoring Office, Sir George Lepping, says cabinet decided to accept the grant after advice from a task force which included Central Bank officials.

Sir George says the government will be making public more details when the funds become available.

The radio report says the association's funds are believed to stem from interest on gold bars invested overseas by former Bougainville rebels.