By IAN M.KAUKUI
HOME Affairs minister Chris Laore on Wednesday met three Honiara City councillors as he moves to address reports of widespread corruption and conflict of interest within the council.
Laore met deputy mayor Charles Aiwosuga, councillor Billy Abae, and councillor Reginald Ngati.
“I’m glad we were able to meet the minister and tell him our side of the story,” Ngati told the Solomon Star after the meeting.
“Our discussions centred around the current dealings and controversies within the council,” he added.
“I thank the minister for facilitating the meeting and outlining the actions he’s going to take to address the issue at hand.
“It was good that he was able to hear both sides of the story after his earlier meeting with mayor Wilson Mamae and the other councillors.”
Ngati had earlier called on Laore to address the alleged corrupt dealings of the council under the leadership of Mamae and not to bury it.
But after yesterday’s meet, he said he just realised that the minister was keen to hear the other side of the story and that he was taking action.
Ngati said he was glad to hear Laore will consult the Attorney General’s Chamber for advice and direction.
In recent weeks, it has been exposed that:
• Council illegally borrowed $1.8 million from local Chinese businessman and appointed councillor John Szetu to purchase fire extinguishers from China.
• The 12 HCC councillors each borrowed $30,000 from Szetu on the promise they’ll use their ward grants to refund their dues. To date, this was not done.
• Council purchase seven vehicles worth $1.9 million from appointed councillor Szetu.
• Fire extinguishers and vehicle procurements have not been publicly tendered as would be required.
• Deliberate violation of HCC financial instructions.
• Obvious conflict of interest in procurement processes.
Honiara residents have been calling on Laore to dissolve the council and investigate the allegations.