A LOCAL pressure group has urged Small Malaita MP Rick Hou and Permanent Secretary for Planning Shadrach Fanega to stand aside while charges of official misconduct are hanging over their heads.
Head of Malaita Ma’asina Forum Charles Dausabea made the call on Wednesday.
Mr Hou and Mr Fanega are being charged by the Leadership Code Commission in relation to their handling and ownership of the Small Malaita Shipping Company.
Mr Dausabea said the right thing for these two leaders to do at this stage is for them to stand aside from their official duties while the charges remain.
Mr Hou, who was finance minister in the last government, is currently the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Fanega is permanent secretary of finance under Mr Hou. He has since been shifted to the Ministry of Economic Planning and Aid Coordination.
Mr Dausabea said it is in the best interest of these two leaders to stand aside in order for them to maintain their integrity.
“If they refuse to stand aside, then it is in the best interest of the nation that the government removes them from the current positions they held,” Mr Dausabea said.
“If the government wants to fight corruption head-on, it must start now. It cannot wait for the proposed Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“Malaita Ma’asina Forum wants to see the Sogavare government clear our system from those who are facing charges of official misconduct or corruption related charges.”
Mr Dausabea added his organization stands ready to assist the government in its effort to fight corruption and graft.
Mr Hou and Mr Fanega are understood to be facing10 charges of official misconduct.
This was in relation to the purchase and ownership of MV Small Malaita, a ship owned by the Small Malaita Constituency.
Investigation into the matter was lodged after constituent John Horokomu of Eteharauri village, made complaints to the LCC.
It was alleged between 2004 and 2005, when Mr Hou was the Governor of Central Bank and Mr Fanega as Finance PS, they used their positions and office to influence and drew RCDF of the constituency to purchase MV Kopuria, now known as MV Small Mala, for the constituency.
It was also alleged Mr Hou and Mr Fanega later incorporated, de-registered, and privatised the company under their names and shared the company shares between them without consulting and obtaining legal consent from people of Small Malaita constituency.
Records at the Company Haus at that time showed Mr Hou holds 99 percent and Fanega 1 percent and took ownership of Small Mala Shipping Company Ltd without consulting and obtaining legal consent from Small Mala constituents.
A civil case on the same matter is currently before the High Court.
The Leadership Code Commission has given the two leaders 60 days to respond to the charges.
The commission has rejected a request from the two leaders to delay their case until the civil suit in the High Court is settled.
By BRADFORD THEONOMI