Warrant of arrest for former Police finance controller

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BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

PROSECUTION has applied for a warrant of arrest against the former financial controller of the Ministry of Police Stephen Jude Otto for failing to appear in court yesterday.

His case was mentioned yesterday in court but had to be adjourned for October 11 when he did not show.

The case is expected to enter its pre-trial conference on the next mention.

Mr Otto is facing allegations of having fraudulently obtaining more than $800,000 of public funds through dishonest tender processes.

He faces 11 counts of official corruption.

Prosecution alleged that on March 26, 2015, Oto was appointed as a member of the Ministry of Police National Security and Correctional Services Ministerial Tender Board.

A requirement of this appointment was that he familiarise himself with the processes set out in the Solomon Islands Financial Instructions.

It was alleged that between December 1, 2015 and August 18, 2016, Jahman Enterprise, a company Oto allegedly set up and owned, answered calls for tenders and has been awarded business contracts for service to the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services on 11 different occasions.

A number of these transactions have required Certificate of Registration of Business name from the Company Haus to be submitted together with the tender.

Police alleged Oto, on a number of occasions, supplied a falsified Certificate of Registration of Business name, removing his own name from this certificate and replacing it with the name Edward Laufooa, to conceal his identity.

His business Jahman Enterprise was alleged to have subsequently invoiced the Ministry of Police, National Security and Correctional Services, who have made payments totally up to $817, 256.50 to Jahman Enterprises for these services, a police brief tendered to the court said.

“Those payments were also alleged to have been made into an account which Oto is the sole signatory,” the document said.

“On a number of occasions, Oto has certified requisitions as the Accountable Officer and on occasions, would allegedly certified that goods and services have been received.”

Mr Oto was the first public officer to be arrested by the Taskforce Janus, he was the Financial Controller within the Ministry of Police and Correctional Services as well as a member of the ministry’s tender board.

Florence Joel of the Office of the Director Public Prosecution represents the crown on the matter.