14 May 2003

Police charge fraudsters in Solomon Islands over scam

11:04 am on 14 May 2003

Police in Solomon Islands have charged three members of the Family Charity Fund financial scam with false pretences.

Acting commissioner, John Homelo, says the three - Mike Hora, Baddley Au and Jane Maenua, may also face other charges after they threatened to blow up the ANZ bank when it refused to have anything to do with the Fund.

Mr Homelo says they're waiting for further statements from ANZ senior staff who were evacuated to Australia in the wake of the intimidation.

Banks in the country were closed following the threat but Westpac and National re-opened their doors to the public yesterday.

Mr Homelo says police have now had two meetings with bank representatives and they've agreed to step up security at the banks.

"We told them that we'll give them officers to every bank from eight o'clock to half past four during working hours at bank premises and we'll just run around during the night to check their residences where they live, but again, with the limited resources we have, we have to do the best we can do. ,..they are really forcing us but we are trying ...we are putting officers there."

Mr Homelo says CID officers are still investigating where the funds went to in the scam after the three accepted money from thousands of Solomon Islanders in return for a promise of huge returns.

The acting commissioner says the three may face minimum jail terms of six months, if that, on the false pretences charge.

Earlier today the Government said in a statement it regretted the decision by the banks to close their doors.

It said the resulting loss of business is affecting the nation dearly.

Also in the statement the Government commended the police for their swift action in apprehending the people allegedly involved in threatening the banks.