23 Aug 2011

Fraud trial begins in Marshall Islands

7:23 am on 23 August 2011

The first trial of 11 people charged with fraud in the Marshall Islands opens today.

Since December, 11 people in government and the private sector have been charged for participating in a scheme to steal US federal grants to the Ministry of Health.

Police investigators say that more than half a million US dollar was stolen by a theft ring between 2007 and 2010.

A High Court Judge James Plasman earlier rejected a motion by a suspended Ministry of Finance worker Allister Mantiera to suppress his confession given to police.

The judge also rejected Mr Mantiera's motions to disqualify testimony by the lead police investigator and a defendant who is providing testimony for the government in hopes of a reduced sentence.