16 Sep 2009

Land deals in Solomon Islands could see charges laid says Commissioner

10:35 am on 16 September 2009

The new Lands Commissioner in Solomon Islands says an investigation into corruption in the ministry responsible for administering crown land could result in criminal charges being laid.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Survey, Ruth Liloqula recently became the first female Commissioner of Lands.

She says charges could be laid following an audit of the ministry's practices.

But she says so many of the ministry's officials have been involved in dubious land transactions, she would have few left if she sacked everyone responsible.

Instead, Ms Liloqula says she is working with staff to turn things around and says their actions should be seen in context of the decades-long culture of corruption that's existed.

"When you really look at it, given the way it was in the past, not during this administration, but even during successive governments, no-one wants to speak out, everyone wants to be in the gang. You have no chance, so you fall in line with the rest of them."

Ruth Liloqula says she hopes international donors can help with the clean-up of the ministry.