MHMS scandal case enters preliminary inquiry today

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BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

THE case against five individuals alleged of misusing funds is set for Preliminary Inquiry today.

The case was adjourned from yesterday.

This is the case against five individuals alleged of misusing funds within the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in 2013.

Robert Manu – former procurement officer, Dalcy Maena – former accounts officer, local contractor Tigi Sikele, and Stephen Kidoe Dalipanda – former financial controller and Randy Hatigeva – former senior accountant.

They are alleged to have involved in the misuse of funds relating to the $10 million scandal that was uncovered in 2013 during a normal risk assessment undertaken in the Government’s financial management information system by Finance ministry officials.

Irregularities were detected in transactions relating to the Health Sector Support Program funded by AusAID.

It was uncovered that government contracts allocated under the health project involved grossly inflated pricing of freight service charges and shipping charters by contractors who were not shipping operators, but merely middle-man shell companies that charged exorbitant margins of around three to four times the normal freight service charges.

Government officials involved have allegedly colluded with contracted service providers to defraud the state.

The allegation against the former financial controller said between January 1, 2012 and September 20, 2013 Mr Dalipanda obtained $7.3 million and on 15 occasions fabricated invoices for freighting and claims submitted under fake shipping companies without the provision of services.

His co-accused Manu of Tikopia faces 12 counts of false pretence and four counts of official corruption.

This is for allegedly processing some payments under two non-genuine shipping companies totalling up to 7.3 million.

Prosecution allege that the other accused, Mr Hatigeva, is also involved in endorsing payments and other documents totalling up $7.3 million.

Ms Maena of Malaita, who faces 18 counts of false pretence, was alleged of processing fictitious quotes, invoices and claims for non-executed services or duplicated payments from fake shipping including a private company that she set up totalling up to SBD $7,542, 763.40.

Mr Sikele is faced with two counts of false pretences for allegedly defrauding the Ministry of Health of more than $730,000.

The Public Prosecution office is appearing for the crown in court.

Principal Magistrate Ricky Iomea presides over the case in court.

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