4 Aug 2005

Solomons militants suspected of extorting cash from prime minister's fund

2:25 pm on 4 August 2005

The chairman of the Solomon Islands Leadership Code Commission suspects militants extorting money from the prime minister may have been behind unexplained payments from his private fund during the ethnic tension.

Emmanuel Kouhota led an abortive investigation into allegations of misconduct against the prime minister over the use of his 130,000 US dollar Discretionary Fund, from 2002 to 2003.

Mr Kouhota says some of those on his list of people receiving payments may be militants.

But he says he can't be sure of what the payments were for because he doesn't have access to the application forms.

"There was some sort of pressure, really, maybe sort of intimidation and so on, from maybe the people like the militants, who cause fear or something."

Mr Kouhota abandoned his investigation because he found out the prime minister's fund had no expenditure guidelines.

But he believes the fund no longer exists as it's not present in this year's budget estimates.