15 Nov 2005

Solomon Islands Auditor General's office recommends review of fisheries department

5:28 pm on 15 November 2005

There is a recommendation that the Solomon Islands Fisheries department is reviewed after the audit office found widespread problems and evidence of officers pocketing government money.

The deputy auditor-general, Richard Woodgate, says in 2001, there was a revenue of just over half a million US dollars but after the audit process began, this climbed sevenfold to 4.2 million in 2004.

Mr Woodgate says at the time, a group of people were running the fisheries department as though it was their own business, not the government's.

And, he says the money trail led from fishing companies to private bank accounts.

"The revenue collections were poor in that some moneys were being paid directly into personal accounts, and a lot of this was probably based on the premise of the tension at the time. And, therefore, there was just a complete breakdown of accountability."

Mr Woodgate says three people, including the former deputy director, are believed to have been suspended, and one has since resigned.