MHMS scandal case to appear in court today

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BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

THE case against five individuals alleged of misusing funds in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) in 2013 will appear in court today for mention.

The five are facing charges of false pretence; four of the accused are former officers of the MHMS while the other co-accused is a local contractor who prosecution allege is connected to the missing $7.3 million.

The five individuals are Stephen Kidoe Dalipanda former Financial Controller, Randy Hatigeva former senior accountant, Robert Manu former procurement officer, Dalcy Maena former accounts officer and local contractor Tigi Sikele.

The allegation said that the five individuals were involved in 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.

The auditors had found irregularities in transactions relating to the Health Sector Support Programme 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.

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The allegation against the former financial controller said between 1 January 2012 and 20 September 2013 the former Financial Controller obtained $7.3 million and on 15 occasions he fabricated invoices for freighting and claims were submitted under the 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 processed some payments under two non-genuine shipping companies totally up to 7.3 million.

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

While Dalcy Maena of Malaita who faces 18 counts of false pretence was alleged for 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.

In relation to the local contractor Tigi Sikele he 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.

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