23 Dec 2010

Widespread fraud suspected in Marshall Islands government departments

7:01 pm on 23 December 2010

An official in the Marshall Islands attorney general's office says two criminal cases alleging fraud and theft in two government departments are just the tip of a wider investigation that is expected to lead to more prosecutions.

Affidavits and police investigative reports in court documents filed this week allege government workers in both the health and finance ministries have stolen tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding provided by the US government.

The reports allege this has been achieved through fake invoices, purchase requisitions and purchase orders and involves government workers and private sector individuals.

The government's chief prosecutor, Tubosoye Brown, says the police investigation has turned up evidence suggesting the fraud could have cost the government more than a million US dollars.

As the investigation continues five staff have been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the probe and criminal prosecutions.