PM reportedly sacks top tax investigator

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OPPOSITION leader Matthew Wale says he’s disgusted at the “sacking of the top investigator in the Inland Revenue Division, directly by Prime Minister Sogavare”.

In a statement, Wale said of the $130 million of extra tax that was recovered as a result of tax audit and investigations, this particular investigator’s efforts resulted in $110 million of that total.

“Clearly this is the best performing investigator in the Inland Revenue Division in the Ministry of Finance,” Wale said.

“You would think that such a star performer would be protected and encouraged to continue with his good work for the government and people of Solomon Islands,” he added.

Wale has not provided the name of the investigator.

Attempts to identify the tax investigator yesterday have not yielded any results.

Wale said this now sacked top tax investigator was summoned to see the Prime Minister, who scolded him for being “rude” in his tax investigations of Ging Hii, the Malaysian honorary consul and owner of MEGA logging company.

Hii, according to Wale, is also associated with Mamara Developments and the company contracted by Prime Minister Sogavare to provide ePassports to Solomon Islands for USD$20 million.

“Clearly, Prime Minister Sogavare was acting on the instructions of Ging Hii,” Wale said.

He said the investigator sought advice from the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, who rightly advised him to continue his work and disregard the Prime Minister.

“But, as a result, the top investigator’s contract was cancelled by the Prime Minister, and he no longer works for the Inland Revenue Division.”

Wale said he is dumbfounded as to why the Prime Minister would sack a top tax investigator who brought in $110 million in extra taxes from his investigative work.

He questions Sogavare’s relationship with Hii, and why the prime minister is protecting Hii from tax investigations.

“What is Prime Minister Sogavare’s interest in protecting Ging Hii?” The Opposition leader questioned.

Wale said the Prime Minister has abused the powers of his office to protect his longtime logging crony, and in so doing has used the office of Prime Minister against the interests of Solomon Islands.

Wale is calling on the Commissioner of Inland Revenue to employ the same top tax investigator as a private consultant to continue the investigations of Hii’s tax affairs.

Further, Wale calls on the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to not interfere in these investigations, adding that the public must take an interest in these tax investigations, and especially in the relationship between Prime Minister Sogavare and Ging Hii.

Wale said the logging industry continues to control the Prime Minister and government, and this is yet another clear example of this decay.

“It is shameful, but worse it is depriving the country of scarce resources to pay for medicines and health services, etc.

“The people of Solomon Islands must be very concerned about the abuse of their government for personal interests,” said the Opposition Leader.

Comments are being sought from Sogavare, whose office was unable to provide a response last night.