In Court with Assumpta Buchanan - Solomon Star News

In Court with Assumpta Buchanan

09 December 2018

* Con man jailed
* Man found guilty of possession of weapon
* Biliki back in court Dec 18

Con man jailed

A man who obtained more than $144,400 from a well-known business man in 2015 has been sentenced to a total of 18 months imprisonment on Friday.

Willie Wane Funua had pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining goods by false pretence and was found guilty after a trial for 16 counts of false pretence and four counts of uttering false documents.

Principal Magistrate Jim Seuika in his sentencing remarks on Friday said the court is seen as an institution which victims of crimes have faith for protection.

“.....and also to do them justice for the suffering and lose they have gone through,” Mr Seuika said.

“Therefore, the court must not turn a blind eye but to deter this type of offence in this country.

“It is important too to impose a sentence that sends a message to likely offenders,” Mr Seuika added.

Mr Seuika in terms of the mitigating features, took into account that Funua represented himself in court and considered Funua’s health condition which he said was not good.

Funua in mitigation said he made all the undertakings through one of his friends still at large by then name of Lesley.

“The court is not satisfied because there was no evidence to lead on those circumstances, however, the court has taken into consideration this mitigation submission,” Mr Seuika said.

Police Prosecutor Rodney Wheatney on the other hand had asked the court to consider the seriousness of this offences, the substantial amount of money obtained from the Complainant by false pretence and the none recovery of the money.

Mr Wheatney in having seeking the court’s indulgence for a deterrence sentence however also agreed that a fair sentencing should reflect all the circumstances of this case.

The incidents occurred between 12 July 2015 and 3 October 2015, where Funua approached businessman James Fang with false documents.

It was heard Funua also obtained credit, goods and money from Fang totaling up to SBD$144,400.

Funua lied to Fang that he was working at the Immigration Division in Honiara.

He also made false documents, to wit, a residence permit for one of the Complainant’s employees of which, he said was was approved by the Solomon Islands Immigration Division.

On another date, he told and showed the Complainant that he had an approved duty exemption granted to his company called Wa’a Company Limited.

During the conversation with the Complainant, Funua also said he was an adopted son of the Minister of Finance & Treasury at that time, Snyder Rini and that Mr Rini had granted the duty exemption.

The exemption letter which he showed to the complainant had a purported letter head of the Ministry of Finance & Treasury and the name and signature of Mr Rini.

Register of Companies in the country however confirmed that Wa’a Company limited was not a registered company.

Mr Rini also denied knowing Funua and that he was not his adopted son and nor did he prepare, sign or even send the letter dated 3 September 2015.

Funua used the letter of duty exemption to lure the Complainant to use it for his imports.

On 5 September 2015, Funua told the Complainant to transfer the duty exemption by way of a contract agreement between his so called Wa’a Company Limited and Fangs Company Limited.

They both then signed the agreement and at that time Funua asked the Complainant to give him $3,500 to buy a coffin for his wife whom he claimed had died.

A prosecution witness whose statement was tendered by consent to the court had confirmed that Funua’s wife is still alive.

On other dates, the accused obtained various amounts of money from the Complainant which he claimed were for freight and sea fares for relatives who attended his wife’s burial to return home, part payments of duty exemption, expense charge, catering for Ministers meeting, and for other personal needs.

The accused also took on credit some goods from the Complainant’s shop which he promised to repay but however allegedly failed to pay for those goods.

It was not until early October in 2015 that the Complainant discovered the accused lied to him with all these representations.

He then made an official complaint to the police on 12 October 2015 requesting a thorough investigation.

Funua represented himself in court while Police Prosecutor Rodney Wheatney appeared for the Crown. 


Man found guilty

A MAN has been found guilty yesterday after a trial for being armed with a bottle of petrol known as ‘petrol bomb’ at the Rove Police Headquarters in June this year.

Luciano Sikwa’ae was convicted after a trial on the charges of possession of weapon and resisting arrest.

He denied the allegation and a trial was conducted before Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea.

Prosecution has called a total of seven witnesses and tendered three exhibits while Sikwa’ae on the other hand decided to be the only witness and gave evidence under oath in his defence.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea in his judgment yesterday said he found the evidence adduced by the Crown in relation to the charges reliable and credible.

“I am satisfied that the Prosecution witnesses saw the defendant who was well known to most of them at the Police Headquarters on 27th of June 2018 from between 6.30pm to 7.20pm,” Mr Iomea said.

Mr Iomea said Sikwa’ae was standing opposite the Police Academy and in front of the Forensic office.

He is further satisfied that the Prosecution has established on the evidence that Sikwa’ae had in his possession a 1.5 litre bottle containing petrol and also an extendable baton and OC spray   in the restricted area at the Police Headquarters.

“I am satisfied that is a weapon and if used could cause injury to people and properties.

“On this occasion, it is fortunate that the three attempts to ignite the bottle containing petrol were not successful.

Sikwa’ae in his defence had told court that on the day of the offence, he was at Rove to pick up his wife only and when she refused to go with him he left and went back to Vavaya Ridge.

Mr Iomea, however, said he found it difficult to believe Sikwa’ae’s version where in cross-examination had deliberately denied facts which were clearly obvious.

“Despite being shown photos taken of his sitting on a bench at the Central Police Station Watch House, he denied being arrested on 27 June 2018.

“This is clearly inconsistent with the evidence of the Prosecution witnesses who arrested and handcuffed him at Arit motors area at Town Ground.

“I reject his account as untruthful.

“I find that the Prosecution has proven the charges against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt and accordingly, he is convicted as charged.”

The matter will return to court again on 7 January next year for mitigation and sentencing submissions.


Biliki back in court Dec 18

The matter of one of the first accused to be charged in connection to the missing $10 million from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will be mentioned in the High Court again on December 18.

Biliki who faces 15 counts of false presence and 15 counts of money laundering was unable to attend the High Court last Thursday when his matter was mentioned.

Biliki was not in court due to because he just had an operation at the National Referral Hospital.

Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer in August of this year had Biliki released on bail due to his health condition.

This is to allow him to seek medical attention.

Biliki is expected to provide his medical report to the court on December 18.

That report will determine the next progress on his matter.

The accused is yet to take his pleas to the charges against him.

The charges are in relation to the allegation between 1 January 2012 and 20 September 2013, where Biliki was accused of defrauding the government of $7.3 million.

A taxi driver labelled as the toy boy in this scandal was already convicted and jailed for two and a half years in 2014 for receiving $1.5 million of the fund.

Biliki was accused of colluding with some public officers from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MoHMS) and then defraud the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) on 15 occasions which totalled up to $7.3 million.

Prosecution also alleged Biliki registered and operated a shipping agent called Eroba Shipping Services and allegedly assist to set up the Joke Shipping Service, also a shipping agent intentionally to legitimate and conceal their claims for payments from SIG.

These shipping services names were allegedly being used by Biliki and his associates and some officers from the MoHMS, to get several payments from SIG covering up Health Clinic projects in and around the provinces.

Biliki’s alleged co-accused, were also charged and their matters recently committed to the High Court pending trials.

They are former MoHMS finance controller Stephen Dalipanda, former MoHMS senior accountant Randy Hatigeva, former MoHMS procurement officer Robert Manu, former MoHMS accounts Officer Dalcy Maena and a local contractor Tigi Sikele.

Prosecution alleged that the accused and other public servants from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services colluded with fake shipping agents to defraud the Solomon Islands Government for approximately $7.3 million.

These millions of dollars were aid donor funding and Solomon Islands Government money purposely to support and improve rural health services. 

Prosecution alleged that these have severely affected implementation of health projects in the rural areas and has unfavourable impact on provision of government health services in the rural areas.     

Michael Holara of the Public Solicitor’s Office is representing Biliki while Public Prosecutor Elma Rizzu is appearing for the Crown.