21 Mar 2008

Auditor General's report in Tonga says Minister of Tourism broke the law

10:20 am on 21 March 2008

An Auditor General's investigation in Tonga into allegations of corruption against the Minister of Tourism has found he did break the law.

The investigation related to the depositing of a cheque for over 1,600 US dollars from the Chinese Embassy into his personal bank account.

In his Report the Auditor General found that the cheque was indeed deposited into the Minister's personal bank account in breach of the law.

The Auditor General also found that the Director of Tourism and the Deputy Director for Marketing knew about and agreed with the Minister's actions.

The Director of the Tourism Ministry had levelled the allegations against Mr Funaki.

The Auditor General recommended the Minister be asked to resign for breaking the law.

The Prime Minister, Dr Feleti Sevele accepted the Minister had broken the law.

But he said because the breach was not of a criminal nature he did not agree that it warranted resignation or dismissal.

Tonga's Minister for Tourism, Fineasi Funaki, will forfeit his salary for 3 months, has been severely reprimanded by the prime minister, and also issued with a final warning.

Seven other people from the Ministry of Tourism, implicated in the investigation, have been referred to the Public Service Commission.