13 Nov 2003

Cook Islands Public Service Commissioner looks into Marine Head's business interests

4:28 pm on 13 November 2003

The Cook Islands Public Service Commissioner Maine Brown is looking at the position of Marine Resources head Navy Epati for what some in the fishing industry perceive as a conflict of interest.

Since May, Mr Epati has been director and 60 percent shareholder of the Te Maroro Fishing Company Ltd as well as head of the ministry that overseas the industry.

Following his reappointment as Marine resources boss in June, Mr Epati announced a moratorium on issuing new fishing licenses on September 15 after some 65 boats, including Te Maroro vessels, were awarded new contracts.

Mr Brown says Mr Epati has been open in declaring his business interests.

"There's probably a suggestion the conflict of interest has been declared under contract. The new set of contracts has been signed and one of the clauses of the contract is any business interest or any interest whatsoever, whether they be political as well, need to be declared and he has declared that."

The Public Service Commissioner, Maine Brown.