30 Sep 2004

Fiji PM warns of investigations of those implicated in audit

4:35 pm on 30 September 2004

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has warned those implicated in the auditor-general's report of abuse of public funds that they will be investigated.

Speaking on his return from the United Nations, Mr Qarase said he would never condone such abuse.

Mr Qarase says those implicated should come under the disciplinary procedures of the public service commission, and action should be taken as early as possible.

He says ministers and their chief executive officers have a duty to ensure that financial rules and regulations are followed strictly.

Mr Qarase says taxpayers deserve better than seeing the mismanagement of the funds they pay to the government.

The prime minister says during the remaining two years of his government, they will try and put in place policies and procedures to ensure that such blatant abuse is minimised.

Meanwhile, Fiji's police commissioner says he doesn't expect all matters of concern raised in the auditor generals latest report this week to be referred to police.

Andrew Hughes has confirmed that they are investigating two referrals from the auditor general involving high level officials.

Police are investigating the country's only ethnic Indian cabinet minister, George Shiu Raj, and the CEO of the Labour Ministry, Brian Singh, for allegedly colluding with a travel agent to defraud the state in two seperate cases.

Mr Hughes says the police will take on any more of the auditor generals referrals but expects some of them won't need police involvement.

"I think it's reasonable to expect that we will receive further referrals but many of the matters contained in the auditor general's report, whilst collectively they are of concern, individually the best remedy for many of them is an administrative one rather than the criminal justice process."

Andrew Hughes says the Criminal Investigation Department is currently gathering evidence before deciding whether charges can be laid.