TSI says city mayor needs to step down

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TRANSPARENCY Solomon Islands says recently elected city mayor Eddie Siapu must step down over his decision to hide a council vehicle from auditors.

“The allegation that the newly elected city mayor was responsible for hiding the Hilux sought by the auditors when implementing the special audit on HCC already reflects badly of him as someone not to be trusted by the people who is capable of leading with integrity and transparency,” TSI said in a statement.

“He needs to step down as well as explain his action to the people with regard to the vehicle,” the statement added.

Auditors from the Auditor General’s office were unable to locate the vehicle worth $274,000 during a special audit of the City Council in 2020.

Although he knew about the vehicle being in Siapu’s hands at that time, city clerk Rence Sore did not disclose that to the auditors.

However, Sore revealed in a report he compiled just before he was sacked in March this year that the vehicle was actually being kept by Siapu.

At the time the audit was undertaken, Siapu, the councilor for Rove/Lengakiki who was elected last month to the mayor’s position, was part of the city council executive under the leadership of Wilson Mamae.

The audit found that in 2020, the council spent $1.6 million on six vehicles.

But further checks found only five vehicles were in the possession of the council.

The sixth, a hilux worth $274,000, could not be located.

In his report, the disgraced Sore revealed Siapu kept that missing sixth vehicle and was using it as his private property.

Earlier, Siapu told the Island Sun he would respond to Sore’s revelation at the appropriate time.

Meanwhile, TSI calls on the Leadership Code Commission needs to look into allegations of unexplained wealth exposed in Sore’s report.

Some of the unexplained wealth revealed in the report were:

[1] the Hilux cost $274,000 now used as a private vehicle of the newly elected City Mayor Eddie Siapu. The vehicle could not be located when the special audit report was carried out to ascertain $1.6 million spent for six vehicles where one was missing. It was revealed by the sacked City Clerk that Siapu took it as his private vehicle.

[2] An alleged million-dollar worth residence built at Titinge, is owned by the HCC treasurer, Tony Lenson.

[3]. Another million-dollar worth residence built at Tasahe B and is allegedly owned by former treasurer of HCC Robert Lauomea. It is described as a million-dollar mansion at Tasahe B.

[4]. The other expensive residence is reportedly located at West Kola Ridge and is allegedly owned by former deputy treasurer, Grace Malefoasi. It is a million-dollar worth residence as well. Grace Malefoasi is the finance officer that looks after projects under the city council.

[5] Residential property at Vura Heights, East Honiara is owned by a junior HCC Treasury Staff-June Qae.

“The names and locations have been made public providing a lead for responsible authorities to carry out investigation of these allegations.

“We call on the police, the Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Leadership Code Commission to investigate these to either clear them of it or convict them bringing trust back to HCC. 

“Any allegations of unexplained wealth must be investigated for they have a direct impact on the provision of services to the rate payers of Honiara City.”