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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Solomons Provincial Premier Accused Of Misappropriation
Veke allegedly circumvented appropriate procurement procedures

By Ednal Palmer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 19, 2013) – A special investigation report has revealed an alleged pinching of SB$50,000 [US$6,845] from provincial funds in the Solomon Islands.

The man under the microscope was the premier of Guadalcanal province Anthony Veke.

The special report was compiled after members of the province conducted an investigation into SB$50,000 of property rates revenue of Doma land.

Members interviewed all persons and stakeholders involved and collected evidences.

The report stated that the premier allegedly by-passed procedures, collecting and misappropriating revenue he collected from Korean Enterprise Limited (KEL).

Guadalcanal province owns about 580 hectares of land at Doma, 50 hectare of which was transferred to Korean Enterprise Limited (KEL) between 2007 and 2009 and accordingly, Korean Enterprise Limited is committed to paying up a yearly land rental and property rates to the province.

The report stated that early 2011, the national government identified part of the Doma land suitable for a fisheries project, but the land was part that of Korean Enterprise’s thus an application was made for a compulsory acquisition of the land.

The report alleged a few weeks after the collective decision for compulsory acquisition, the premier allegedly directed the provincial secretary John Steward to write a letter to KEL for an advance of the Doma land property rates.

The report stated that on June 9, 2011, the premier asked the provincial cashier Victor Sua to give him a receipt written out to Korean Enterprise Limited being for a one year advance of the property rates.

Korean Enterprise Limited also confirmed that the premier collected the SB$50,000 on the same day June 9, 2011; the receipt was issued (Receipt number 102960).

The report stated that an investigation was carried out and a meeting held on June 20, 2011, but the premier initially denied any such activity.

However the premier made an admission when evidences were displayed during another meeting, apologized and vowed to repay the amount.

It stated that the premier apologized but only refunded SB$20,000 [US$2,738], and asked that he uses SB$30,000 [US$4,107] for an overseas trip which the report said should be covered under the ministry of provincial government.

The report further stated that he also obtained SB$30,000 from the ministry for the trip, which the ministry confirmed it was exhausted earlier June 2, 2011.

The report stated that premier Veke never made any overseas trips during the month of June 2011.

The report alleged that the premier breached the Guadalcanal Financial Management Ordinance, Provincial Act and Finance and Audit Acts.

The report noted that the premier has nothing to do with collection of revenue or any other payments due to the province.

The report urged the office of the Auditor General to confirm the report’s findings so that measures can be taken to avoid any further fishy activities from occurring in the future.

The premier could not be reached yesterday for comments.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, 11 provincial assembly members have petitioned for Veke's resignation, saying the allegation of misappropriation are "serious" and threaten the passage of government ordinances. Veke, responding to the allegations, claims they have been fabricated by an opposition group within the provincial government and are politically motivated. Veke claims that he used the monies for a trip to Korea to meet with a fishing company interested in establishing a presence at Doma, but "never" for personal interests.]

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