2 Jul 2010

Top Cooks officials embroiled in misconduct claims

3:00 pm on 2 July 2010

Allegations of misconduct have been made against two of the most senior officials in the Cook Islands government, the Director of Audit and the Public Service Commissioner.

The allegations have been made by the former head of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Sholan Ivaiti.

Mr Ivaiti says he wants an independent investigation into the conduct of Audit Director Paul Allsworth and a separate inquiry into the Public Service Commissioner, Navy Epati.

Florence Syme Buchanan reports from Rarotonga.

"Mr Ivaiti also says he and Mr Allsworth have had a personal conflict dating back some years and as such, the Audit Director shouldn't have taken part in the investigation into the government's controversial fuel agreement. Mr Ivaiti was Finance Secretary at the time of the deal. The Audit report into this matter will be made public once it's tabled in Parliament. Mr Ivaiti also claims that Mr Epati was involved, and made the comment that the hardest form of corruption to fight is collusion. The Public Expenditure and Review Committee chair Marie Francis had yet to receive a copy of Mr Ivaiti's letter but acknowledges the allegations are very serious. She says the committee is prepared to look at the allegations and consider whether to take them further."