10 Nov 2003

Former Chief of Staff to Cook Islands PM convicted on seven fraud charges

4:35 pm on 10 November 2003

The former chief of staff in the Office of the Cook Islands Prime Minister,Edward Drollett, been found guilty of seven charges of receiving secret commissions and one charge of forgery.

The charges relate to Drollet's hiring of the accounting firm, ACL, to carry out work at the office on the condition that the director share an exhorbitant fee charged to the government.

The arrangement was discovered after an investigation assisted by New Zealand's Serious Fraud Office and both men were charged.

Johnathon Harwood, who covered the trial for the Cook Islands News, says the two men face jail terms when they appear for sentencing on November 21st

"He could be looking at some time in prison, although I'm not sure if there is a provision for a fine in this case, I have been told by one source that a prison sentence is the usual punishment."

Drollett is the most senior public servant to appear on charges since the fly-in voters case in the late seventies